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Professor of English, Yale University 

London Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press 


Copyright^ 1953, by Yale Unwersity Press 
Printed m the Untied States of America by 
the VatUBallou Press Inc , Binghamton, N Y 
All rights reserved This book may not be 
reproduced, m whole or m part, in any form 
{except by reviewers for the public press), 
without written permission of the publishers 
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 


Ever since the first Hamlet advised the players, ^'Speak the speech, I 
pray you, as I pronounced it to you,’' countless actors have recited these 
famous words, perhaps unaware of their full significance Whether they 
heeded the advice or not, whether they spoke their lines '"trippingly on the 
tongue” or "mouthed” them like town criers, whether they cherished a 
conservative type of pronunciation or preferred the colloquial speech of 
the day, each generation unconsciously imposed its general phonetic pat- 
tern on the Shakespearean text In doing so few realized that they were 
gradually moving away from the conventions or fashions of about 1600 
The difference m pronunciation between successive generations must have 
been almost imperceptible, but with the passage of centuries the cumula- 
tive effect of even minute changes inevitably became noticeable In retro- 
spect, for instance, we can observe a vowel changing its quality and quan- 
tity, a monophthong becoming a diphthong, a consonant disappearing 
altogether We can even perceive the effect of linguistic fashion on indi- 
vidual sounds or words Yet, in the last analysis, we shall discover that 
despite the intervening three hundred and fifty years Shakespeare’s pro- 
nunciation differed much less from our own than has been commonly sup- 
posed The gap is not impassable 

This discovery alone justifies, I think, the labors that have gone into 
the present study Begun in 1943 as a Guggenheim project, it rapidly out- 
grew Its original limits The phonological material proved far bulkier than 
could be foreseen at the outset, and the problems of organization and pre- 
sentation were further complicated by the unexpectedly large number of 
homonymic puns which turned up during the investigation and which have 
been incorporated here All the material upon which the Shakespearean 
phonology is based is therefore embodied in the present volume, including 
a complete Rhyme Index to Shakespeare 

The mam purpose of the book is to provide the student of Shakespeare 
with an up-to-date, comprehensive account of Shakespeare’s pronunciation 
and to present the relevant phonological evidence for the reconstructions 
attempted on pp 343-368 It has not been written merely to gratify an 
antiquarian interest, however valid, or to satisfy a natural curiosity about 
the phonetics of Shakespeare’s language There are, indeed, much more 



cogent reasons for undertaking an investigation on so large a scale An 
adequate knowledge of Shakespeare's pronunciation is as essential for the 
understanding of his text and prosody as is, for instance, a knowledge of 
his grammar and syntax Historical phonology alone can help us to ex- 
plain satisfactorily the problems presented by striking orthographic forms, 
rhymes, metrical peculiarities, and possible puns , importantly, it is often 
a salutary corrective to textual emendation Many illuminating examples 
will be found in the subsequent pages But a knowledge of Shakespeare's 
pronunciation can be applied far more widely than to Shakespeare him- 
self, for his language reflects most of the trends and developments that 
characterize the century between 1550 and 1650 Thus, once we know 
Shakespearean phonology we are equipped to deal with all sorts of textual 
and prosodic problems in the English literature of the Renaissance and 
following decades which have so far been treated only superficially Here 
is an almost untilled field of research for the competent philologist 
A good impression of the sound of Shakespeare's verse and prose can 
be obtained with relatively little effort from the phonetic transcriptions 
of familiar passages given below Nevertheless, such transcriptions can- 
not replace the spoken word, and I therefore venture to hope that the 
lo-inch long-playing record of a few selections from Shakespeare that the 
Columbia Records Inc have made from my dictation and which will be 
issued simultaneously with the publication of this book will prove to be 
helpful That this record is available is entirely due to the courtesy of 
Mr Goddard Lieberson and his associates of Columbia Records 
It is hardly conceivable that this study would ever have been completed 
but for the generous support of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial 
Foundation The fellowship I held m 1943-44 and again'^m 1950-51 en- 
abled me during those years to devote all my time to research, and I am 
deeply grateful to the Foundation for this demonstration of the importance 
they attached to this project in Shakespearean scholarship 

My sincere thanks are offered here to all those who have during the past 
ten years given me their encouragement and help m carrying out this in- 
vestigation Professor Miles L Hanley of the University of Wisconsin not 
only placed his enormous collection of rhymes at my disposal but also did 
his utmost to overcome my doubts and hesitation in facing this strenuous 
undertaking Mrs Louise Hanley gave invaluable help in preparing the 
Rhyme Index, forming Appendix 3 of this volume To Professor Harold 
Orton of Leeds University I owe a heavy debt of gratitude for reading 
the whole manuscript and for suggested improvements of various kinds 
And I have been fortunate enough to be able to discuss many problems, 
phonological as well as textual, not only with him but with Professors 

IN orman n jrearson, r reaencK jronie, ana i^nanes i r rouiy oi x aie 
University, Francis P Magoun Jr of Harvard University, Hamilton M 
Smyser of Connecticut College, and Dr Randolph Quirk of University 
College, London Professor Theodore Sizer of Yale University kindly 
drew the diagram on p 340, Mr Henry E Collins of Northwestern Uni- 
versity provided me with illuminating excerpts from his forthcoming dis- 
sertation on the phonology of the modern Warwickshire dialect, and 
Mr Herbert K Tjossem volunteered to read the first proofs Mrs Eliza- 
beth McMullan undertook the arduous task of styling the book for the 
Yale University Press 

At the very beginning of my investigation Messrs Ginn and Co of 
Boston placed at my disposal an interleaved copy of George Lyman Kit- 
tredge’s one-volume edition of Shakespeare’s works, and later courteously 
permitted me to quote from his Sixteen Plays of Shakespeare For similar 
permission to quote from Henry Cecil Wyld’s History of Modern Col- 
loquial English I am indebted to Messrs Basil Blackwell of Oxford and 
E P Dutton and Co of New York City 

While every effort has been made to reproduce faithfully Shakespeare’s 
spellings, rhymes, and text and to give exact references, it would be a mira- 
cle if no errors had crept in I hope, however, that they will prove to be 

Though this is not so much a book for the layman as for those versed 
in early New English phonology, I trust that it will, nevertheless, be use- 
ful to many who are interested in Shakespeai e Even when dealing with 
highly technical matters I have tried to write clearly and simply, but it 
has proved impossible either to dispense with the accepted terminology 
or to benefit bd^inners by any discussion of basic phonological problems 
Yet the first two parts of the book should offer no difficulty to most read- 
ers, and the extensive word index will be helpful to all who seek precise 
information on Shakespeare’s spellings, rhymes, and puns 

H K 

Davenport College 
Yale University 
December j i, 1^52 




Antony and Cleopatra 


Airs Well That Ends Well 


As You Like It 




The Comedy of Errors 






First Part of Henry IV 


Second Part of Henry IV 


Henry V 


First Part of Henry VI 


Second Part of Henry VI 

2H6 (Q) 

The Contention 


Third Part of Henry VI 

3H6 (Q) The True Tragedy 


Henry VIII 


King John 


Julius Caesar 


King Lear 


A Lover’s Complaint 


Love’s* Labour’s Lost 




Much Ado about Nothing 


Measure for Measure 


A Midsummer Night’s 


The Merchant of Venice 


The Merry Wives of 






The Phoenix and the Turtle 


The Passionate Pilgrim 


Richard II 

R 3 

Richard III 

Romeo and Juliet 


The Rape of Lucrece 




The Tempest 


Titus Andronicus 


Troilus and Cress ida 


The Two Gentlemen of Ve* 



Timon of Athens 


Twelfth Night 


The Two Noble Kinsmen 


The Taming of the Shrew 


Venus and Adonis 


The Winter’s Tale 


























G 1 


















































East Riding of Yorkshiie 




North Riding of Yorkshire 




West Riding of Yorkshire 



s Wa, n 

So, etc southern War- 



wickshire, northern Somerset- 




shire, etc 





Old English 




Old French 




Old Norse 


early New English 






past participle (s) 


(First) Folio 


prologue or induction 


ist--3d Folio 

pr t 

present tense 




past tense 




(First) Quarto 




2d Quarto 



Qi -3 

ist-3d Quarto 












Scotland ^ 


Low German 


stage direction 






Middle Dutch 




Middle English 


Standard English 






New English 


West Saxon 

Rhymes have been indicated by a colon between the words, eg , be me, 
and puns by a dash, eg, sofir-sun (zx), (3X), etc, after a spelling or 
rhyme indicate the total number of its occurrences 
The standard abbreviations have been used in refernng to poems by 
Chaucer, Spenser, and Milton, eg, BD {Book of the Duchess), FQ 
{Faerte Queene), PL {Paradise Lost) 

Key to Phonetic Symbols 


[a] as in G Mann, Fr patte 

[a ] the corresponding long vowel 

[ai] as « in St E hke 

[au] as ou in St E house 

[a ] as a in St E father 

[a] the corresponding short vowel 

[d] as 0 in St E hot 

[d ] the corresponding long vowel 

[di] as oy in St E boy 

[a] as w in St E cut 

[3e] as fl in St E bad 

[se ] the corresponding long vowel 

[e ] as ^ in G sehen 

[e] the corresponding short vowel 
[§] as ^ in St E get 

] the corresponding long vowel 
[e ] as^inFrm^m^ 

[e] the corresponding short vowel 
[co] as er in St E there 
[9] as 0 in St*E gallop, or a in 

[91] see p 216, below 

[9u] see p 244, below 

[3 ] as ir in St E bird 

[i] as i and 3; in St E city 

[1 ] as ee in St E see 

[1] the corresponding short vowel 

[0 ] as 0 in G Sohn, Fr chose 

[0] the corresponding short vowel 

[d ] as aw in St E law 

[d] the corresponding short vowel 

[0] as 0 in Fr comme 

[u ] as 0 in St E do 

[u] as 00 in St E good 

[n ] centralized [u ] 

[lu] unrounded [u] 

[q ] zs u m Swedish hus (a half- 
close front over-rounded 

[y ] as w in G Tur 


[ J ] as y in St E young 

[9] as ch in G ich 

[x] as ch in G ach 

[g] as ng in St E sing 

[r] as rin St E ripe, very 

[j] weak pre-consonantal or final 

(p 342) 

[r] retroflex r (as in American 

[s] as j m St E sing 
[z] as ^ in St E zeal 
[J] as sh in St E ship 
[3] as J in St E pleasure 
[t/] as ch in St E church 
[d3] as dg in St E bridge 
[w] as zy in St E win 

[hw] or [m] as wh in American 

[ 9 ] as th in StE thin 
[8] as in StE then 

['] means that the following syl- 
lable IS stressed 
[,] denotes secondary stress 
[ ] denotes full length, [ ] half 

[1, m, n] indicate syllabic [1, m, n] 

[ ] under a symbol indicates voice- 


Preface v 

Abbreviations ix 

Key to Phonetic Symbols xi 

Part One Introduction 

Shakespeare’s Pronunciation 3 

The Linguistic Situation in Shakespeare’s England 6 

Method of Investigation 15 

The Orthoepistic Evidence 17 

The Orthographic Evidence 19 

The Metrical Evidence 25 

The Rhyme Evidence 31 

Shakespeare’s Use of Dialect and Broken English 35 

Previous Studies of Shakespeare’s Pronunaation 46 

Part Two Shakespeare’s Homonymic Puns 
The Homonymic Pun as Evidence of Pronunciation 53 

Jingles 68 

Homonymic Puns 86 


Part Three Phonology 

Stressed Vowels and Diphthongs 161 

a m man^ jar 162 

a in tale, ai in tail 173 

aw in law 180 

e in let 185 

ee m see 190 

ea in sea I94 

ew in new, dew 209 

i in sit 212 

i in hne, 0% in loin 216 

0 m god 222 

0 in go, ow in know 229 



00 m moon 
u in sun 


ou in house 
BTi tr, ur 

Unstressed Vowels 

The Use of [^] and [i] 

The Pronunciation of Certain Common Suffixes 

-el 259, -en, -on 260, -er 261, -ed 262, -es 264, -est 
265, -eth 266, -able, -tble 266, -ace, -as, -ess, '-age, 
-ege, -al, -a%l, -ol 267, -an, -am, -at, -ate, -et, -ot 268, 
-dom, -lie, -me, -ite, -ive, -ing 269, -sion, -tion, 
-uce, -ule, -ute, -us 270, -ure 271 
Weak Forms 

Synaeresis, Symzesis, and Synalepha 
Development of New Vowels 


b and p 
d and t 
g and k 

gh in light, thought, etc 
h and y 

m, n, and ng 

The Sibilants 

V and f 
w and wh 



Phonetic Transcriptions 
Sonnet 18 
Sonnet 30 
Sonnets 33, 55 
Sonnet 116 

































The Tempest, 4 i 148-58 349 

A Midsummer Night's Dream, i 2 349 

A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2 i 249-67 352 

The Merchant of Venice, 3 2 73-107 353 

The Merchant of Venice, 4 i 184-205 354 

As You Like It, 2 7 12-43 355 

As You Like It, 2 7 139-66 35® 

Twelfth Night, i i 1-15 357 

Richard II, 2 i 40-68 35^ 

Henry V, 2 3 1-47 359 

Conolanus, 5 3 131-82 361 

Julius Caesar, 3 2 79-113 3^2 

Macbeth, i 7 1-28 3^4 

Hamlet, 3 i 56-90 3^5 

Hamlet, 3 2 1-50 366 

Antony and Cleopatra, 2 2 195-223 368 

Part Four Appendixes 

Appendix i Syncopated Words in Shakespeare 371 

•al, -lali ~ual 37 ^ 

-ance, --ence, -ency 373 

-ant, -entj -ment 374 

-ary, -ery, -ory, -ury 375 

-ate, -ature, -ite 377 

-er, -ar, -or 379 

-ering,*-onng, -uring 380 

-elmg, -ihng, -oming 3^3 

-ening, -oning 383 

Vowel or Diphthong + -mg 384 

-ety, -ity, -y 385 

-ous, -lOUS, -uous 387 

Other Cases of Syncope 39^ 

Appendix 2 Shakespearean Accentuation 39^ 

Stress on the First Syllable 39^ 

Stress on the Second Syllable 395 

Appendix 3 An Index oj Shakespeare' s Rhymes 399 

Bibliography 49^ 

Word Index 5^5 



When we have occasion to refer to Shakespeare's pronunciation we 
are apt to use the term loosely and almost as equivalent to Elizabethan pro- 
nunciation This practice is not unjustified, as we shall see, but strictly 
speaking '‘Shakespeare’s pronunciation” denotes one thing alone, namely, 
the sum total of phonetic features that characterized the speech of Wil- 
liam Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon and London An investigation 
such as the present one, which endeavors to present all the available data 
on his pronunciation and to interpret them phonologically, would there- 
fore have to take into account not only the basic elements of his speech, 
that IS, vowels, consonants, and stress, but also such secondary character- 
istics as pitch and resonance of voice and the principal patterns of intona- 
tion and rhvthm Most of these secondary features are extremely difficult 
to analyze fully and to describe intelligibly when we study the speech habits 
of our own generation, even with the aid of modern recording machines , 
but unfortunately we can never hope to recapture and study them in the 
pronunciation of a man whose voice has been silent for more than three 

Thus the area of study is necessarily restricted to the three primary 
elements of speech, viz , vowels, consonants, and stress But even so the 
investigator faces a complicated situation because Shakespeare’s pronun- 
ciation cannot have remained static throughout his life It must have been 
considerably modified by his migration from Stratford to London Shake- 
speare spent his linguistically formative years in Stratford, speaking the 
local variety of the Warwickshire dialect for the first twenty or twenty-five 
years of his life This was the natural speech of his closest relatives and 
friends But from his seventh year onward the "whining schoolboy with 
his satchel and shining morning face,” who crept "like snail unwillingly to 
school,” was exposed to another brand of English, the artificial language 
of the pedantic schoolmaster, who endeavored to adapt not only his own 
pronunciation and that of his pupils to the archaic spelling but also his 
spelling to the all-important etymon of the word We do not know who 
taught young Will to read and wnte Indeed, it matters very little who 
did, because the traditional hornbook method did not encourage peda- 
gogical experimentation But Thomas Jenkins, who first as usher and 




later as master of the Kynges Newe Scole at Stratford steered him through 
the school’s Latin curriculum,^ may well have been imbued with the same 
orthoepic notions as Holof ernes in Lovers LctbouT s Lost Like him Jenkins 
probably used to dm into his scholars’ ears, while they were wrestling 
with their translations from Latin into English, the pronunciation of words 
like debt and doubt, calf and half, neigh and neighbor WiH^-nilly the 
boys heeded him, for ‘^breeching” was a convincing argument if others 
failed Personal recollections of this kind probably inspired the clever lin- 
guistic touches in his portrait of Holofernes The fact that Shakespeare 
satirized the latter’s orthoepic precepts tends to prove that his own attitude 
in such matters was sounder and more realistic Yet it may have developed 
out of his failures and successes as an actor and playwright But one would 
like to believe that instead of having an adverse effect upon him the school- 
master’s pedantry actually helped to broaden his outlook by making him 
aware of the difference between orthoepic theory and everyday usage 
When Shakespeare was lured to seek his fortune in London he there- 
fore took with him his Warwickshire dialect, essentially unmodified, we 
may believe, by any noteworthy outside influence In the capital, however, 
he had sooner or later to make considerable linguistic adjustments, not 
directly under duress as occasionally in the King’s School at Stratford but 
simply as a means of making his way in the world Normally his Warwick- 
shire accent would not have been particularly conspicuous or constituted 
any social barrier so long as he remained m subordinate positions After 
all, London was the magnet that attracted all sorts of people from every 
corner of the British Isles, individuals who generally continued to practice 
their native wood-notes long after their transplantation into the capital 
But the situation changed the moment Shakespeare became one of the 
players and began to associate with artists and writers as well as their 
patrons As an actor he had to use a type of pronunciation that was free 
from objectionable provincialisms and at the same time so distinct and 
sonorous as to be readily understood by the audience Though there is no 
record of the existence of a stage pronunciation at that time, we can hardly 
be wrong in assuming that the actors endeavored to conform to some kind 
of standard pronunciation and that this was the colloquial type of speech 
used m polite circles A man of Shakespeare’s mental alertness and sensi- 
tiveness to the artistic value of effective enunciation cannot have failed to 
adapt himself readily to the changed conditions But whether his linguistic 
adjustment resulted in a partial or a complete abandonment of his native 
dialect for the polite idiom of the capital remains undetermined Like 
many people in a similar situation today he may have been bilingual in the 
I Baldwin, p 477 


sense that professionally he always used this acquired idiom but reverted 
to his Warwickshire speech, or some modification of it, in the company of 
old fnends Indeed, the phonological evidence at our disposal does not 
preclude the assumption of such bilingualism, which may have resulted in 
the sporadic appearance of Warwickshire features in his professional pro- 

Today a mixed pronunciation of this kind would be classified as Modi- 
fied Standard A dialectologist would find it comparatively easy to isolate 
its various regional and class elements and to reveal their mutual influ- 
ences But such an analysis can be undertaken only on the basis of direct 
observation of an individual’s speech habits over a period of time Needless 
to say, no such first-hand mateiial exists for Shakespeare With not even 
an autograph manuscript of a single one of his plays to rely upon, we 
must depend solely on the text that the Elizabethan printer has transmitted 
to us We are consequently at least two, if not three, steps removed from 
Its spoken form Nevertheless, thanks to the fortunate circumstance that 
Shakespeare as a dramatist and showman was intensely concerned with 
the effect of the spoken word upon his audience, and thanks also to the 
fact that Elizabethan spelling was less stable than ours today, we possess in 
his works a considerable body of phonological material, which rightly 
interpreted yields a reliable picture of his pronunciation Or to be more 
precise, a picture of Elizabethan English pronunciation as reflected in 
Shakespeare’s works through the flexible medium of his art For m the 
course of time his own speech appears to have become virtually indistin- 
guishable from the general pattern of good colloquial English then spoken 
m London Sporadically we hear echoes of something different, something 
that may derive from his adolescent years in Stratford, but our imperfect 
knowledge of the early modern history of most English dialects hardly 
permits us to label these forms as genuine Warwickshire elements in his 

Shakespeare’s pronunciation, then, so far as it can be reconstructed 
from the phonological evidence of the Quartos and the Folio, implies a 
somewhat impersonal manner of speech used by William Shakespeare the 
actor-playwright — and presumably also, with many individual variations, 
by most of his friends and associates in the theatrical business — but not 
necessarily by the private citizen who, according to tradition, paid annual 
visits to his native town of Stratford-on-Avon before finally settling there 
again It is this acquired or modified pronunciation of his mature years 
that will be analyzed in the present volume 

It IS inevitable that a comprehensive phonological investigation of this 
kind should shatter certain popular m3^hs regarding the nature of Shake- 



speare’s pronunciation that have unfortunately been allowed to influence 
the textual and critical study of his works A bitter disappointment, more- 
over, awaits those who still cherish the romantic idea that Shakespeare's 
pronunciation was almost Chaucerian m character They will have to 
reconcile themselves to the fact that they would be able to understand 
Shakespeare and Burbage with little effort, could these great Elizabethans 
return from the shades to make a guest appearance at the Old Vic or the 
Memorial Theatre at Stratford Their speech would probably sound like a 
quaint dialect, characterized by more monophthongs and far purer long 
vowels than are to be found in. modern English, eg, [^ ] and [o ] for 
modern [51] and [ou] in name, hope, by a marked quantitative distinc- 
tion between historically long and short vowels, eg, [1 ] m beet and [i] 
in bit , and by not a few curious pronunciations of individual words , only 
the latter might cause some difficulty to a modern audience For in its 
principal features Shakespeare's pronunciation strongly resembled modern 
English In some respects it was actually far more colloquial than might 
be considered proper or acceptable today , this is true particularly of its 
radical reduction of unstressed syllables and its often nonchalant treatment 
of the consonants On the other hand it retained some archaic and dialectal 
elements that were, however, to disappear from the incipient standard 
language during the next two centuries But it was certainly not Chau- 
cerian Indeed, Shakespeare would probably have found it no easier to 
understand Chaucer than would a 20th-century listener, for momentous 
changes had taken place in the English language in the two hundred years 
that had elapsed since Chaucer flourished Middle English had not only 
yielded to New English but New English had made determined strides 
toward modern English, thus widening even more the gulf between Chau- 
cer's language and Shakespeare's 

The period in which Shakespeare lived was one of considerable lin- 
guistic freedom and experimentation To grasp fully the amazing diversity 
of usage that prevailed, particularly in pronunciation, we must know 
something about the development that had resulted in this complex situa- 
tion and about the forces that eventually brought about the relative uni- 
formity that characterizes Standard English today The following chapter 
attempts to provide this necessary background 

The Linguistic Situation in Shakespeare’s England 

The tongue which Shakespeare spake’ was the tongue which he wrote,” 
says Henry Cecil Wyld (p loi) in his admirable chapter on “The Eng- 
lish Language from Henry VIII to James I ” In it he nghtly stresses the 



unity of the colloquial language and the language of literature, adding the 
pertinent observation that “features which we should now consider Vul- 
garisms,’ or too slipshod for colloquial use, were in the sixteenth century 
current in Court English” and found “their way into works of first-rate 
literary importance ” Sixteenth-century grammarians and orthoepists re- 
garded this diversified type of colloquial English as the best pronunciation, 
to be acquiied and cultivated by the aspirant to civic honors or to the 
poet’s laurels We may, if we choose, call it Standard English, provided 
we remember that it had neither the currency nor the uniformity of its 
present-day equivalent It was, as I have pointed out elsewhere,^ a trend 
rather than a fixed system, and as such highly variable and fluid 

The emergence of this spoken Standard had been a slow process which 
was still going on in Shakespeare’s time and was to do so for another two 
hundred years So far as we know there was no spoken Standard in 
Middle English Throughout that period people spoke and wrote their 
native dialects, even though London speech was increasingly accepted as 
a model by writers from other parts of the country The geographical 
position of London on the border between the old Saxon and Mercian 
dialects, or, as they are generally called from ME on, the southern and 
East Midland dialects, gave to the speech of the rapidly growing city its 
character of a mixed dialect In the course of centuries the East Midland 
features became more and more preponderant, but they never succeeded 
in completely ousting the southern characteristics London English is, 
and always has been, an amalgamation of elements from at least three dis- 
tinct regional dialects, namely, the southern and southwestern with its 
roots in West-Saxon, the East Midland mainly of Anglian (Mercian) 
origin, and the southeastern with its center in Kent Though the East Mid- 
land type predominated, pronunciations characteristic of the other dialects 
were used concurrently in Chaucer’s time, so that a word like ME techen 
(teach) was pronounced [tetjsn] by some, mainly southerners, and 
[te tjon] by others , similarly fire was either [fi r] or [fe r], the latter a 
typical southeasternism Chaucer rhymes, eg, fir, in its East Midland 
form [fir], with desir (KnT 1501-2), and, in the dative, as feere 
[fe ra] with heere (hear, TC 3 977-8) , he also rhymes berye merye 
Prl 207-8, mune Mercurie MchT 1733-4, and pyrie myne MchT 
2217-18, using three dialectal variants of merry, viz , the southeastern, the 
southwestern or West Midland, and the East Midland Such phonetic 
doublets continued to be used for the next two or three centuries, though 
obviously with different vowel values as a result of the so-called Great 
Vowel-Shift in the early part of the fifteenth century To the average 
2 Phtlologica The Malone Anniversary Studies^ pp 243! 



Londoner of those days their existence was probably less noticeable than 
would be today a vacillation between, say, [i Sa] and [aiSa] for either, 
[pse s] and [pa s] for pass, [Df(n) ] and [o f (n) ] for off, open A modem 
poet who rhymed, e g , leisure with pleasure and seizure in the same poem 
would doubtless invite more comment than did Chaucer and Shakespeare 
with their numerous rhymes of this kind 
It was this London dialect as spoken by the upper classes that was 
destined to become the Standard English of today Exactly how and when 
this happened it is difficult to say But we have Puttenham’s testimony 
in The Arte of English Poesie (1589) that the courtly type of spoken 
English was regarded as superior and therefore worth imitating There 
(pp 144 f ) he advises the “maker or Poet” to use the language “spoken 
in the kings Court, or in the good townes and Cities within the land,” 
by men “avill and graciously behavoured and bred,” defining it further 
as “the usuall speach of the Court, and that of London and the shires 
lying about London within lx myles, and not much more ” While ad- 
mitting that in every shire of England there were gentlemen and others 
who spoke and especially wrote “as good Southerne as we of Middlesex 
and Surrey do,” Puttenham nevertheless stresses the important fact that 
as a rule these gentlemen “and their learned clarkes” continued to speak 
the vanous regional dialects From these remarks Wyld infers that the 
16th-century Standard was practically confined to those persons who 
frequented the court or who came directly or indirectly under the influence 
of court speech Puttenham’s sixty-mile radius from London covers a 
multitude of local dialects, including those of Oxford and Cambridge, which 
were apparently acceptable in the modified form used by “the better 
brought up sort ” Yet Puttenham felt prompted to reprove the scholars 
of the two universities for using “much peevish affectation of words out 
of the primative languages” , what he took exception to was presumably 
the revival of obsolete or obsolescent words as recommended by purists 
like Ascham and Cheke, for he himself was as opposed as they to inkhom 
terms At any rate, from this wide area with its divergent regional dialects 
the incipient Standard language was bound to receive many impulses, 
while at the same time exerting a levehr^ influence first on the speech of 
the landed gentry and, later, on the prosperous citizens of the provincial 
centers It is this linguistic give-and-take that accounts for the considerable 
freedom of usage which charactenzes the language throughout the 16th 
and 17th centuries There was consequently no rigid standard of pro- 
nunaation to which a gentleman had to conform m order to be regarded 
as a gentleman If he chose, he could, like Sir Walter Raleigh, parade his 



native Devonshire dialect at court, most people in similar positions, 
however, undoubtedly did their best to sound as courtly as possible On the 
other hand, men of learning like preachers and schoolmasters, who accord- 
ing to Puttenham were particularly given to the use of inkhorn terms, 
disturbed this trend toward linguistic uniformity by their predilection 
for all sorts of artificial spelling-pronunciations , some of these, like perfect 
for historically correct par fit, became generally accepted, while, for in- 
stance, the Grecizing hume for hymn had to suffer degiadation to a pro- 
vincialism ® 

The mam phonological characteristics of Elizabethan English had been 
determined by a series of revolutionary sound-changes at the very be- 
ginning of the 15th century, generally known as the Great Vowel-Shift 
This had played havoc with the ME long vowels, diphthongizing the close 
front and back vowels t [1 ] and w [u ] m hke, house to [oi] and [ou] 
(modern [ai] and [au] ) and raising the half-close e [e ] and ^ [o ] in 
see, do to [1 ] and [u ], respectively, simultaneously ME | [e ] and g 
[d ] in sea, go were raised to [§ ] and [o ], while a [a] and a [a ] in bad, 
name became [ae] and [se ] About the same time the ME diphthongs at 
[sei] and ou [du] in day, know were monophthongized to [ae ] and [o ], 
thus coalescing with the reflexes of ME d and $ This trend must have been 
quite noticeable in Chaucer’s lifetime, but the lack of conclusive evidence 
before the first quarter of the 15th century would seem to favor 1400 as 
the approximate date of its initial stage During the following centuries 
the new sound-system thus evolved continued to undergo gradual changes 
in the direction of the present one, which to all intents and purposes was 
reached before 1800 Shakespeare’s pionunciation, which occupies a 
chronological position about midway between the Vowel-Shift and mod- 
ern English, was therefore much closei to our own type of speech than 
to Chaucer’s 

The operation of the Vowel-Shift, however, was not universal nor was 
it uniformly the same in all the dialects affected by it Thus ME a remained 
as [a] over a large area that, to judge from its present distribution, in- 
cluded counties as close to London as Bd, Hu, Brk, O, and Wa, more- 
over, some dialects never leveled ME d and at or g and ou, pronouncing 
tale and sole differently from tail and soul The effect of the Vowel-Shift 
on the three constituent dialects of London English was in some instances 
to accentuate their distinctive features, m others to obliterate old distinc- 
tions Thus while the southeastern and East Midland [e ] for ME g be- 
came [1 ] like ME e, the corresponding southern [e ] underwent only 

3 It survives in the Sf dialect , see Sf Dial , §277 



the slight change to ^ Londoners were therefore accustomed to hear 
and use indiscriminately [titj] and [t^tj] (teach), [si ] and [s^ ] (sea), 
etc , [ti tj] and [si ] were the colloquial variants that eventually ousted 
the more conservative forms [t^ tJ] and [sg ] And there were many 
other doublets like these, both of individual words and of whole phono- 
logical groups On the other hand the leveling of ME a and m, § and ou 
gave rise to a set of new homonyms like the above tale-tml, sole-soul, 
which Shakespeare was ready to exploit for punning purposes 
Another factor that contributed to the unsettled state of Elizabethan 
English was the accelerated influx of people from other parts of England 
into London This must have brought about a considerable increase of 
double or even treble pronunciations At the same time, however, a 
countertendency was at work which finally established one of these as the 
accepted usage That process, which was due to both linguistic and social 
causes, was very slow and gradual It was going on in Shakespeare's time, 
but it had not as yet succeeded in creating a standard language in the 
modern sense of the term On the contrary, the linguistic situation m i6th- 
and 17th-century England was characterized by considerable fluidity, by 
a tug of war between contending regional and class dialects In this respect, 
therefore, Shakespeare’s position was not unlike Chaucer’s he could 
often choose between phonetic doublets to facilitate his rhyming Failure 
to understand this complex situation is responsible for many of the er- 
roneous notions still prevalent both about Shakespeare’s pronunciation 
and about the nature of early Standard English 
This dialectal rivalry in early NE has had a far greater impact on the 
development of modern Standard English than is generally assumed Our 
handbooks all but ignore it, preferring to explain sound-changes as due 
solely to phonetic processes or, occasionally, as the result of analogy , this 
is, of course, the strict neogrammarian point of view Even Wyld, who 
discerned what had actually happened to ME ^ words m early NE, failed 
to see that this was not the only case that could be satisfactorily explained 
as due to the abandonment of one pronunciation for another of different 
dialectal provenance Like him I believe, of course, that our present [1 ] 
for ME f m sea, speak is not the result of a phonetic change of [e ] > [i ] , 
via [e ], at the end of the 17th century, but that it represents a parallel 
development within another dialect current in London that eventually 
ousted Its rival [^ ], except m the five words break, steak, great, yea, and 
dram, for further details I refer to pp 194 ff, below As a result of 
dialectal rivalry and not as a regular sound-change, we should, moreover. 

KOE y also became [1 ], this explains the modern 
distinction between dialectal meece [mi s] and St E mice < OE m^s 



explain modern [a ] in ask, jar In itself a change of ME ar [ar] > 
[ser] > [se i] > [a j] > [a C-i)]j all within the space of less than two 
hundred years, is phonologically and chronologically inconceivable But it 
becomes an absurdity when applied to ME er and or, which were some- 
times leveled with dr, and to ME war- This is what happened to ME 
er, dr, war- if we accept the orthodox views of the handbooks ME er 
[er] > [ser] > [ar] > [aer] > [as j] > [ai] > [a (j)], ME dr 
[or] > [ar] > [ar] > [aer] > [ae i] > [a x] > [a (j)] , ME war 
[war] > [waer] > [wae j] > [waj] > [waj] > [wo (j)] (or alter- 
natively [war] > [waer] > [war] > [war] > [waj] > [wo (j)]) 
The only explanation that is compatible with the early evidence and with 
the present dialectal sound-systems is the assumption of at least two 
parallel developments, one resulting in modern [ae ] for ME er, dr as in 
a few dialects, the other going direct to [a ( j) ] from ME dr [ar] without 
the intermediate stages [aer], [aej], with subsequent or simultaneous 
rounding of the vowel in war The present American distinction between 
[ae( )] in pass, ask and [ar] m far must reflect the current usage about 
1600, which Shakespeare doubtless shared During the 17th century, 
however, another pronunciation began to assert itself more and more, 
eventually to become the Received Standard , its [a ] in pass, ask came 
from a regional or class dialect that had retained ME d before [f, s, 0 ] as 
[a], gradually lengthening it to [a ] and then retracting it to [a ] ® 
Occasionally the tug of war between two t3;pes of pronunciation resulted 
in a draw so that one group of words is now pronounced with one sound 
and the other with a totally different sound The history of ME er in 
servant, dark is an illuminating example of this dual development The 
ME pronunciation of er was probably [er] In many dialects, notably 
those of the East Midland, the effect of the r was to lower the preceding 
e to d, that is, [s] became [a], probably via [se] This new dr < er seems 
to have spread from the East Midland dialects into London speech, where 
such forms become quite numerous in private documents of middle-class 
writers down to the middle of the i6th century Gradually they begin to 
appear also in upper-class English, where they become increasingly fash- 
ionable during the 17th century Queen Elizabeth, for instance, wrote 
horde for ‘heard’ and parson for ‘person ’ At the same time the older 
pronunciation er [er] must have survived, though with a more or less 
centralized vowel [3], and this [sj] spread downward to the middle 
classes, who eagerly adopted it as more correct and refined , to some extent 
orthoepic precept (the inculcation of spelling-pronunciation) no doubt 
favored this reverse process The result is that today we write and say 
5 See further Mather Flint, pp 87 ff 



servant f learn but jar^ dark, and if we are British we write clerk, Derby 
but pronounce 'dark, Darby’ I am convinced that Wyld (p ii) is right 
in assuming that '‘we have here a linguistic feature which found its way 
from a Regional dialect into Middle Class London speech, passed thence 
into Received Standard, only to be ousted later by a fresh wave of Middle 
Class influence, this time m the direction of a deliberate attempt at ele- 
gance ” 

Another interesting effect of fashion upon early NE pronunciation 
should be mentioned in this connection In the 17th century snobs con- 
sidered it stylish to pronounce short 0 as a, 1 e , as [a] or [a], a usage 
that Vanbrugh satirized when he made Lord Foppmgton in The Relapse 
say stap, Gad, Tam, pasxhvely, etc This unrounding of o to a, which 
failed to be accepted into Standard English, is today heard in the dialects 
of southern and southwestern England It has been suggested that the 
two Devon men Raleigh and Drake were ultimately responsible for the 
adoption of the dialectal a by the smart set of the 17th century ® Be that 
as it may, the unrounding of o to a is evidenced much earlier in private 
London documents and in place-names from the vicinity of London , ^ 
Shakespeare, too, has several instances of it Some of the early French 
writers on English pronunciation, who direct English o to be pronounced 
as French a, may therefore have learned it either from lower-class speak- 
ers or from the ultrafashionable , their identification of the two sounds 
may, however, be only approximate, a substitution of their native [a] for 
the English [o] At any rate, the unrounded vowel did not survive in 
British English, except in the above-mentioned dialects, but it accom- 
panied the Pilgrim Fathers and later colonists to America, where it is now 
a typical feature of the so-called General American 

6 This imitation of a prominent person's linguistic idiosyncrasies is well illustrated 
in 2H4 2 3 21-32, where Shakespeare makes Lady Percy say of Hotspur 

He was (indeed) the Glasse 
Wherein the Noble- Youth did dresse themselves 
He had no Legges, that practic'd not his Gate 
And speaking thicke (which Nature made his blemish) 

Became the Accents of the Valiant 

For those that could speake low, and tardily, 

Would turne their owne Perfection, to Abuse, 

To seeme like him So that in Speech, in Gate, 

In Diet, in Affections of delight. 

In Militarie Rules, Humors of Blood, 

He was the Marke, and Glasse, Coppy, and Booke, 

That fashion'd others 

7 See the discussion on pp 222 ff , below 



This once fashionable unrounding of 0 to a is a fine example of a re- 
gional feature becoming a class characteristic, though in this particular 
case not until after Shakespeare’s time, and then only for a comparatively 
short time Otherwise linguistic class distinctions of this kind are hard to 
establish in the Elizabethan period On the stage the tapsters of the 
Boar’s Head doubtless spoke differently from Prince Hal or Falstaff, but 
the plays themselves give no clue to the nature of the differences In fact, 
there is little evidehce of a vulgar type of pronunciation comparable to 
modern Cockney Sporadic vulgarisms occur in Mrs Quickly’s lines, but 
none of Shakespeare’s vulgar characteis is consistently portrayed by 
phonetic peculiarities, these seem to have been left entiiely to the imita- 
tive ability of the individual actor Vulgarity of language is indicated by 
other means coarse vocabulary, loose sentence structure, malapropisms, 
and puns But it is not implied by Orlando’s remark to the disguised 
Rosalind (AYL 3 2 359-60) “Your accent is something finer than you 
could purchase in so removed a dwelling” , he merely registers his sur- 
prise at hearing the youth speak nondialectal English Rosalind extricates 
herself by saying that an old religious uncle of hers, “who was in his youth 
an inland man” and consequently knew the fashionable idiom, had taught 
her to speak properly Normally a youth in her supposed humble circum- 
stances would have used the conventional stage dialect, the type of speech 
that Edgar assumes m L 46239-51 On the other hand Osric and 
Holof ernes typify the outre jargon of the courtier and the extravagant 
polysyllabism of the pedant , only the latter, however, reveals glimpses of 
his equally bizarre pronunciation One would like to know whether the 
actor who played Holofernes adopted throughout his scenes a stilted 
mode of speech with many spelling-pronunciations to heighten the ab- 
surdity of the inkhorn terms But we can be suie that Ancient Pistol with 
his scraps of old plays was supposed to “mouth it,” as was Falstaff when 
he pretended to rebuke the Prince “m King Cambyses’ vein” (1H4 
2 4 429 ff ) Perhaps this pompous style of delivery which almost over- 
whelmed the Hostess was accompanied by a corresponding change in 
pronunciation so that Falstaff used one that was closer to the printed word 
than normal colloquial English 

Considerable phonological evidence exists to show that Shakespeare 
himself preferred the current colloquial type of speech, although he never 
hesitated to use a more conservative or even archaic variety when his 
verse so requiied Hamlet’s advice to the players to speak their lines 
“trippingly on the tongue” reveals his solicitude for a natural mode of 
deliveiy So does his castigation of those bellowing actors who, “neither 
having the accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian,” used to mouth 



their words m the manner of a town crier Speaking through Hamlet he 
pleads with the actors not to overstep ‘‘the modesty of nature/’ implying 
that their speech like their action should “hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to 
nature ” In an earlier scene (H 22 488-9) Polonius commends the First 
Player on his “good accent,” that is, his good pronunciation and distinct 

From passing remarks like these we learn that the fastidious audience 
of the day appreciated the attention given by an actor to his voice and 
pronunciation Shakespeare certainly understood the artistic value of a 
polished articulation The words he places in Hamlet’s mouth even sug- 
gest that at times he was wont to coach other members of the company 
by personally showing them how he wished his lines to be read Such 
instruction may have been focused principally on the most effective de- 
livery of a speech, but it is far from unlikely that sometimes it involved 
phonetic adjustments of one kind or another Yet it would be rash to 
assume that some form of stage pi enunciation already existed, the fact 
that certain dialects were used for comic purposes implies, however, that 
extreme provincialisms were otherwise avoided and that consequently 
the cultivation of a polished type of speech was held professionally de- 
sirable We have every reason to believe that this was essentially identical 
with the courtly type of colloquial English that eventually developed into 
modern Standard English This admitted of many variations, depending 
on the nature of the part played and on the character of the particular 
scene A bantering dialogue, particularly if in prose, called for a swifter, 
more colloquial type of delivery than, say, a speech from the throne as m 
H I 2 or a funeral oration like Mark Antony’s These were probably dis- 
tinguished by a stately, very precise or emphatic diction, m which sounds 
and syllables normally slurred tended to be more or less fully sounded, 
naturally within the limits set by the meter But this formal style of de- 
livery had little in common with the artificial pronunciation recommended 
by Gill in Logonomia Anghca (1621) and uncritically accepted as a model 
by Franz in Die Sprache Shakespeares^^ for it is this very type of speech 
that Shakespeare ridicules in the linguistic mannerisms and orthoepic 
pronouncements of Holofernes The principal differences between the two 
styles of pronunciation just referred to will be appaient from a study of 
the phonetic transcriptions at the end of this volume 

^ transcribes phonetically JC 219-34 (Brutus’ soliloquy) "in die 

Gelehrtensprache aus dem Anfang des 17 Jahrhunderts auf Grund der Logonomia 
nghca des Alexander Gill (1621) ” A pronunciation of that type might have been 
heard about 1400 but certainly not in Shakespeare’s time 



Method of Investigation 

This study of Shakespeare’s pronunciation is based on and endeavors to 
treat exhaustively the phonological material to be found m Shakespeare’s 
plays and poems To that end the First Folio of 1623 and all the Quarto 
texts, good and bad, preceding the Folio have been excerpted for rhymes, 
phonetic spellings, homonymic puns, and various metrical indications of 
contraction and elision The data so obtained constitute the internal evi- 
dence of Shakespeare’s pronunciation They have been compared with 
the testimony of i6th- and 17th-century orthoepists and with occasional 
spellings in private documents from the same period, which together form 
the external evidence, and interpreted in the light of our present knowl- 
edge of early NE phonology Some comparative material has also been 
adduced from the works of contemporar}’^ dramatists, including Lyly’s 
Euphues, but it has obviously not been possible to subject these authors 
to anything like the systematic scrutiny accorded to Shakespeare As may 
be expected, these various types of internal and external evidence differ 
greatly in usefulness, dependability, and phonological significance The 
next four sections will therefore be devoted to a general survey and 
evaluation of the available sources of information on Shakespeare’s pro- 
nunciation with the exception of the homonymic puns, which will be dealt 
with separately in Part Two 

My basic text has been The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Boston, 
1936), by G L Kittredge, whose line numbering has been used through- 
out , since this agrees on the whole with that of the Globe edition, no 
difficulty should be encountered in checking references For the Folio text 
I have used the Methuen facsimile of 1910 and the excellent Booth reprint 
of 1864, as well as the relevant volumes of the New Variorum Edition 
The Quarto spellings and rhymes have been extracted from the latter vol- 
umes, from the recent collotype facsimiles published by the Huntington 
Library and the Shakespeare Association, from available original copies 
m the Elizabethan Club at Yale, and in the case of R'lchard II from the old 
photolithographic facsimiles by Gnggs and Praetorius 

Modern annotated editions of Shakespeare’s plays and poems have 
been regularly consulted in matters of interpretation, emendation, and so 
on, above all the New Variorum Edition, the Arden edition, the Cam- 
bridge edition, and Sixteen Plays of Shakespeare (Boston, 1946), edited 
by G L Kittredge (here always referred to as ‘"Kittredge”) But I have 
usually paid no attention to their conjectures regarding the sounds of 
Elizabethan English 



Since this is basically a study of early NE pronunciation as reflected 
m Shakespeare’s works, I have not hesitated to make full use of the 
phonological material in the so-called bad Quartos , nor have I refrained 
from excerpting the three parts of Henry VI as well as The Contention 
and The True Tragedy — ^for the sake of easy reference here designated 
as 2H6 (Q) and 3H6 (Q) — and further Henry VIII, Pericles, The Two 
Noble Kinsmen, A Lover's Complaint, and The Passionate Pilgrim as 
reprinted by Kittredge, even though Shakespeare’s share in all these plays 
and poems is a matter of debate Forms taken from them rarely differ 
from those appearing in undisputed texts, but if they do, that fact will be 
duly emphasized, they may well have been used by Shakespeare, but 
their umque occurrence in, say, Pericles or The Two Noble Kinsmen 
makes them inconclusive in terms of Shakespeare’s own pronunciation 

As a rule quotations appear in the orthography of the Folio — in the 
case of Pericles, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and the Poems in the spelling 
of the earliest Quarto , modern usage, however, has been followed with 
regard to i, u, v, w, and s Otherwise Quarto spellings are indicated by 
(Q) after the reference number, eg, TC 5 10 16 (Q) , this (Q) means 
either the sole Quarto or the First Quarto — any other Quarto is desig- 
nated by the addition of one of the digits 2, 3, etc , thus (Q2), (Q3), etc 
When the Quarto text differs materially from that of the Folio, I have 
usually given only a reference, without line numbering, to the act and 
scene of the play in question The only exceptions to reproducing the 
original F or Q spelling occur m the chapter on the unstressed vowels , 
here it was often found more expedient to print the modem form, unless 
the early spelling happened to be phonologically sigmficant The same 
practice has been followed in the Appendixes Pun and rhyme quotations 
usually appear without reference numbers to facilitate reading and 
save space, since the relevant numbers can easily be found by consulting 
Part Two (Shakespeare’s Homonymic Puns) and the Rhyme Index 
at the end of the book 

So much for the method used in gathering the phonological material 
and reproducing it here The material itself is very extensive, consisting 
of hundreds of homonymic puns and thousands of rhymes and spellings 
This internal evidence, which will be analyzed in Part Three (Phonolo<nr) 
and has provided most of the clues to the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s 
pronunciation attempted below (pp 343 ff ), often supplements the testi- 
mony of contemporary grammarians and thus serves as a valuable cor- 
rective to the orthoepistic evidence, particularly in regard to the chro- 
nology of the sound-changes in question 



The Orthoepistic Evidence 

Our most important sources of information on early NE pronunciation 
are the grammars and spelling books that begin to appear about the middle 
of the 1 6th century ® Their authors were either Englishmen like Sir 
Thomas Smith, Queen Elizabeth^s chancellor, and John Hart, Chester 
Herald, or foreigners, living and teaching in England, like the Frenchmen 
Bellot and Erondelle and the Italian Florio They are, of course, all aware 
of the discrepancy between English spelling and English pronunciation, 
which as we have seen had been brought about by the Great Vowel-Shift 
early in the preceding century, but their manners of dealing with the 
troublesome linguistic situation are characteristically different 

The foreigners have a purely pedagogical interest in the sounds of 
English Whether they are teaching French or Italian to the English or 
English to their own compatriots, they always resort to the method of 
pointing out the nearest equivalent of the foreign sound m the learner’s 
native language From such comparisons or identifications, however un- 
satisfactory they often are phonetically, one can learn a great deal about 
the phonetics of early NE This is equally true of similar accounts writ- 
ten by Englishmen, e g , William Salesbury’s essay on English and Welsh 
pronunciation (1547) and John Wodroephe’s The True Marrowe of the 
French Tongue (1623), which contains such illuminating respellings of 
French words as la Tair (terre), (dieu), teat (tete), etc As a rule, 
however, the English grammarians are mainly concerned with the orthoepic 
and orthographic problems of their own language, on which they speculate 
and which they do their best to clarify This preoccupation with sounds 
and symbols tends to make some of them convinced spelling reformers 
Thus Sir Thomas Smith’s De recta et emendata linguae Anglicae scrip- 
Hone dmlogus (1568) attempts to establish a new English orthography on 
broadly phonetic principles So do John Hart’s two volumes An Or- 
thographic (1569) and A Method (i57o),^ William Bullokar’s 
Booke at Large (1580) and Bref Grammar for English (1586), and later 
Charles Butler’s English Grammar (1634) On the other hand, Richard 

9 The works of most i6th- and 17th-century orthoepists have been analyzed by 
Zachnsson m Pronunciation of English Vowels 1400-1700 , note particularly pp 


I John Hart was not a Londoner, nor did he describe early StE as is main- 
tained by Jespersen and other scholars He hailed from Devonshire, and his pronun- 
ciation was a modified form of the Devonshire dialect of the i6th century, see further 
my article “John Hart and Early Standard English ” 



Mulcaster, who in 1596 became headmaster of St Paul’s School, is averse 
to abandoning the traditional orthography, but despite his abstruse spec- 
ulations on the ‘'right writing” of English in The Elementane (1582), he 
manages to convey some useful data regarding the pronunciation of his 

None of these men were phoneticians m the modern sense of the word 
What little they knew of phonetic theory ultimately derived from the 
ancient classical authors, whose views they unhesitatingly accepted as 
valid for their own language They seem to have been unaware of the 
conflict between these theories and observable facts, or if they were not, 
they dodged it by specious reasoning Hence they were inclined to recom- 
mend and describe theoretical or archaic pronunciations m preference to 
the everyday spoken forms, especially when these deviated too much from 
the orthography This reliance on ancient authorities necessarily militated 
against and often seriously impaired the accuracy of their phonetic analy- 
sis Even those orthoepists who took pains to record what they heard 
constantly confused sounds and letteis, a not uncommon failing today 
with many Shakespearean critics and scholars Though the classical de- 
pendency grew less marked during the following century, it was still 
quite noticeable in the i8th and even later At times it renders the phono- 
logical use of these otherwise valuable sources both difficult and haz- 

The 17th century saw the appearance of many more treatises on Eng- 
lish pronunciation, spelling books, and grammars, among them Alex- 
ander Gill’s Logonomia Anghca (1621), which contains much useful in- 
formation on the speech habits of about 1600 Yet Gill does not describe 
early Standard English, as is taken for granted by all handbooks on the 
history of early NE, but most likely a modified form of his native Lincoln- 
shire dialect , moreover, he strongly favors an artificial mode of pronun- 
ciation in close agreement with the traditional spelling More important 
IS Charles Butler’s Enghsh Grammar (1634), whose “Index of Words 
Like and Unlike” appears to be the first comprehensive list of English 
homonyms, anticipating by nine years Richard Hodges’ pamphlet A Spe- 
cial Help to Orthographic Consisting of Such Words as Are Alike 
in Sound, and Unlike Both in Their Signification and Writing (1643) > 
both contain excellent parallels of some of Shakespeare’s homonymic 

The date added within parentheses after the name of an orthoepist, e g , 
Butler ( 1634) , is that of the publication of his work , thus Hodges ( 1643) 
always means A Special Help to Orthographic (1643) and Hodges (1644) 
The English Primrose (1644), but Hart and Bullokar, who likewise pub- 


Iished more than one book each, are simply referred to as Hart (1570) 
and Bullokar (1585) 

The Orthographic Evidence 

The occasional spelling, a term used in phonological research alter- 
natively with phonetic spelling and naive spelling, has long been recog- 
nized as a valuable aid in determining the nature and chronology of a 
sound-change As a peculiar form of misspelling which betrays the pro- 
nunciation of the perpetrator, it presupposes an orthographic norm, 
whether individual or more general It is the relationship between the 
deviation and this norm rather than the deviation (spelling) itself that 
may throw light on a given phonological problem For this reason it is 
essential to know not only the speller’s scribal habits in general, that is, 
his conscious or unconscious written norm, but also his regional and social 
background (his spoken norm), before one can attempt an evaluation of 
his occasional spellings 

From a phonological point of view, then, the occasional spelling be- 
comes particularly significant with the rise of a written standard and even 
more so when, as happened in English as a result of the Great Vowel- 
Shift, pronunciation and orthography part company and no determined 
effort IS made to adjust the latter to the former In such a situation any 
literate person will have to master an orthography that is largely ideo- 
graphic If he IS an indifferent or poor speller he is likely not only to 
confuse variant symbols for the same sound, using them more or less in- 
discriminately in familiar groups of words, but also to extend their use 
to unfamiliar words which he may never or only seldom have seen written 
On the other hand, the increasing literacy of the people through com- 
pulsory education and the adequate supply of printed books will inevitably 
tend to reduce the frequency of occasional spellings but not necessarily 
their phonological value 

The almost static quality of English orthography for the last three cen- 
turies has so distuibed the original balance between sound and symbol 
that today the process of spelling has very largely become a memorial 
reproduction of traditional graphic forms In the i 6 th century, however, 
conditions were not quite the same First of all, English spelling was then 
much less fixed than todav, though more so than in the preceding century 
Secondly, the limited output of printed books in conjunction with the 
hornbook method of teaching spelling considerably weakened the visual 
impact of the current orthography Again, the presence of numerous 
phonetic doublets was apt to cause further uncertainty and confusion A 



man who pronounced ee and ea alike {see and sea^ had different ortho- 
graphic problems from one who distinguished these two in pronunciation 
but instead pronounced ea and a (seal and sale) in the same way — ^both 
types of pronunciation were current simultaneously m London Neither 
might ever have been tempted to write simple words like he, me, etc , in 
any other way than he(e), me(e), nor would the former be particularly 
likely to confuse see and sea, because he had doubtless learned to distin- 
guish these two ideograms , but [bi st] he might write beast even when he 
meant heest,^ whereas the other man would keep those words apart but 
instead, perhaps, confuse lean and lane (as in 1H4 2 4 520) An unusual 
word like serpigo, of rare occurrence in print, would cause both spellers 
a great deal of trouble its i, then pronounced [1 ], could be spelled e, ee, 
and ea, to mention only the three most common representatives, while 
the unstressed syllable [so] (with loss of r) might be rendered sa or su, 
as indeed it is in the MM and TC spellings sap ego, suppeago Here we 
catch the speller wavering between two sets of symbols, both equally ac- 
ceptable orthographically but incorrect etymologically Obviously some 
kind of phonetic analysis preceded the wnting of these words and found 
expression in the most common graphic symbols available Many such 
occasional spellings occur in Shakespeare and are extremely valuable as a 
means of establishing his pronunciation of individual words and of phono- 
logically related groups of words 

The interpretation of the orthographic evidence is beset with many 
difficulties Though m the isth and i6th centuries people still spelled very 
much as they pleased, there was nevertheless a definite trend toward 
stabilization and consistency, above all in the printing houses, which 
through the medium of their publications became the de facto lawmakers 
m orthographic matters These individualistic spelling habits quite nat- 
urally resulted m numerous unconventional forms, many of which doubt- 
less reveal contemporary pronunciations Great care is needed, however, 
to distinguish such genuine phonetic spellings from the mass of specious 
cases originating from phonetic doubtlets, from scribal fashions and idio- 
syncrasies, and even from poor penmanship and accidental miswritings 

As emphasized above, the occasional spelling can never be treated in 
isolation Its testimony is directly related to the written and spoken norm 
of the period in question, it is not necessarily the same, say, in 1650 as it 
was in 155^ Nor can it be assumed to be the same in the case of two 
contemporary writers from different dialectal areas , their orthographic 
problems are apt to differ because the relationship between their respective 
spoken norms and the written standard is not the same And the resulting 

2 But see the discussion on p 193, below 



occasional spelling should be interpreted accordingly Little attention 
seems to have been paid to this complication and its effect upon the 
writer’s choice of symbols by those who have used the occasional spelling 
in their phonological research ® Further complications stem from the fact 
that particularly in a mixed-dialect area like London one and the same 
symbol may not infrequently refer to two or more totally different sounds 
without indicating a general leveling of these The above suppeago shows 
that the digraph ea could occasionally stand for [i ] in Shakespeare, as 
it obviously does in the rhyme beseech teach, although more commonly 
it represents [^ ] or [§] (see pp 198 ff, below) The spellings kype, 
spyde, lyve in the Paston letters are cases of the same category Some 
scholars are unwilling to accept them as proving the raising of ME e to 
[1 ], since they feel that y can indicate only the antecedent of [ai] or [i] 
But if we remember that in East Anglia ME ^ tended to be lengthened in 
an open syllable as in give, live, pity, little, etc , that moreover final 4 y 
could be variously pronounced [li], [li ] (in rhymes with be, me, etc ), 
and [bi], and that there are clear indications of a dialectal retention of 
[1 ] < ME I m dike, like (not to mention [1 ] < OE y in meece 'mice’), 
then the use of the letter y to repiesent [1 ] does not seem at all unlikely 
At any rate, I find it hard to believe that it stands for [i] m hype, spyde, 

Considerable criticism has been directed at Zachrisson and Wyld, the 
foremost proponents of the occasional spelling Let us not forget, however, 
that these two distinguished scholars were pioneers Many believe that 
no adverse criticism of their work can ever succeed either m tarnishing 
their reputation or weakening the foundations of their theories Having 
said this, we may allow that there is truth in the allegation that Wyld often 
failed to discriminate between phonetic spellings and phonetic doublets * 
and that both used to excerpt printed editions of their sources instead of 
the original MSS Wyld’s adventurous spirit and his enthusiasm for the 
orthographic evidence made him incautious , almost every page of his 
stimulating History of Modern Colloquial English contains instances of 
phonetic doublets that cannot be accepted as evidence of the sound-change 
under discussion Nevertheless he has nearly always plenty of other sup- 
porting material to prove his point Though it is very easy to be wise in 

3 That IS why one cannot rely on the interesting spellings of English vowels ex- 
cerpted by Matthews from 17th-century logbooks and examined in Angha, sg, (i935)» 
PP 193 f? 

4 Zachrisson was usually overscrupulous in ruling out doublets In Bullokar, p 
69, however, he makes the mistake of interpreting lay as a phonetic spelling of law, 
indicating a pronunciation [ae ] , but this is almost certainly the now obsolete 
lay < OF let, with the same meaning as law 



retrospect, the second accusation is more serious, if it can be shown that 
the editions used have failed to reproduce accurately the original spelling 
This IS precisely what Davis has shown in his critical survey ‘The Text 
of Margaret Paston’s Letters James Gairdner^s edition of these letters, 
on which Zachrisson relied— unwisely so it proved— is certainly a careless 
piece of work Davis has eliminated several of Zachrisson's prize spellings 
but at the same time unearthed others that are good, so that fortunately 
the net result of his able scrutiny is not too damaging Every student of 
early NE will be grateful to him for pointing out these serious errors and 
will wholeheartedly endorse his insistence on the use of absolutely reliable 
sources Nevertheless it will be recalled that as long ago as 1926 the pre- 
cept had clearly emerged in the work of Zachnsson's pupil Asta Kihlbom 
{A Contribution to the Study of Fifteenth Century English) , and he him- 
self had driven it home in his excellent work The English Pronunciation at 
Shakespeare^ s Time as Taught hy William Bullokar (1927) Neither 
Wyld's failure to rule out phonetic doublets nor Zachrisson's overop- 
timistic dependence on Gairdner's unsatisfactory edition will in any way 
detract from the value of the occasional spelling to phonological research 
They merely emphasize the need for the utmost caution in utilizing this 
most important evidence of early English pronunciation 
With respect to the occasional spellings in Shakespeare we have no 
choice but to depend on the printed text Unfortunately we cannot know 
whether or not Shakespeare was an unconventional speller Between his 
own manuscnpt and the existing text stands not only the printer but per- 
haps also a copyist or secretary The many phonetic spellings of one kind 
or another in the early Quartos and the First Folio need not, of course, 
reflect his own usage, though most of them undoubtedly do so Even a 
copyist may have adhered pretty closely to Shakespeare's own spelling — 
at any rate, not a single spelling can, even conjecturally, be attributed to 
such an intermediary Some of the Quarto texts certainly give the im- 
pression of having carefully reproduced the idiosyncrasies of Shake- 
speare's own orthography This is particularly true of Q2 of Hamlet, 
which was supposedly printed from Shakespeare's autograph manu- 
script, and which is full of interesting spellings So is Qi of A Midsummer 
Night's Dream, which likewise may have been based on a manuscript in 
Shakespeare’s own hand Whatever their genesis, the First Quartos of 
Hamlet and The Merry Wives of Windsor, too, supply many forms that 
indicate the pronunciation of the day Most of the spellings excerpted turn 
out to be phonetic doublets or instances of well-known sound-changes like 
ar for er, i for e, the addition and loss of consonants, etc , in other words, 
phonological material that would normally be accepted as legitimate if 



coming from an autograph manuscript Hence we need not hesitate to use 
It as an aid m determining Shakespeare's pronunciation, provided we 
take pains to eliminate misprints As a matter of fact, it has on the whole 
been comparatively easy to distinguish between genuine occasional spell- 
ings and typographical errors The latter have, however, been tacitly ig- 
nored, with the exception of ambiguous cases 

One question that must be faced is the extent to which the orthography 
of Shakespeare's works reflects the compositor's rather than the author's 
practice Such typographical interference is hard to gauge with no manu- 
script available for comparison Fortunately, however, we possess for 
certain i6th- and 17th-century texts the very manuscripts from which 
they were printed Percy Simpson's book Proof-Readtng in the i 6 th, lyth, 
and i 8 th Centuries, Helen Darbishire's facsimile edition of the first book 
of Milton's Paradise Lost, and M St Clare Byrne's examination of 
"Antony Munday's Spelling as a Literary Clue" all shed much valuable 
light on the attitude of the printer toward his manuscript They effectively 
dispose of the fallacy that the printer introduced his own vulgarisms into 
the author's text and that consequently its phonological peculiarities arise 
from him and not from the author To be sure, the printers committed all 
sorts of typographical errors, some of which were corrected by the proof- 
reader, but their deliberate interference was along the lines of scribal and 
typographical tradition In other words, the printer tended to be more 
conservative and more conventional than the author '"In the matter of 
spelling, the tendency, even at an early date," says Simpson (p 51), "was 
for the printer to have a rough-and-ready system of his own " This was 
his style book, and this he followed, eliminating a great many variants 
which he considered unnecessarily archaic or simply incorrect Thus we 
find the printer of the Milton MS changing perfet to perfect, persues to 
pursues, wrauth to wrath, etc ,® and similar corrections can be spotted in 
Shakespeare despite the absence of a manuscript^ But the printer was 
never consistent in striving for uniformity More often than not he pre- 
served the author's spelling, probably, as Simpson (p 52) thinks, "be- 
cause it pulled up the compositor, and with his attention caught by it, he 
obeyed the instinct to follow copy " As we shall see, the very same practice 
was observed by those who first printed Shakespeare’s works These 
studies by Simpson, Darbishire, and Byrne prove Wyld (pp ii2f ) to 
have been correct in laying down as his working hypothesis that the print- 
ers were "unlikely to introduce, of themselves, any considerable novelties 
m spelling", that they were conservative and conventional, that they 
would be more likely to eliminate the "incorrect” spellings of the author's 
5 Darbishire, pp xxxvi f 



manuscript than introduce these themselves, and that consequently we 
are justified in regarding the outstanding linguistic features in printed 
literature of this period as really reflecting the individualities of the authors 
and not of the printers 

Once in a while we can, as I said above, spot the correcting hand of the 
printer in Shakespeare's text The best example is probably beholds 
MND 5 I 379 (Qq, Ff), which should be read behowls, I have no doubt 
that Shakespeaie's manuscript contained the spelling behoulds, with 
ou = ow and an excrescent d as in ould TC 5 10 16 (Q) for owh a form 
that the printer interpreted as beholds in view of such common spellings as 
houJd (bold), could (cold), etc Similarly he misunderstood an original 
Seoul or schoul for scowl as a variant of school, producing the supercrux 
school of night (see further, p 247, below) Theobald's emendation scowl 
is as convincing as his shoal M i 7 6 for school ‘'But heere, upon this 
Banke and Schoole of time, Wee'ld jumpe the life to come " Shakespeare 
had probably written schoule or schol(d)e (for such early spellings as 
should, showld, schoold, scholde for shoal sb , adj , see OED), which 
the printer corrected to Schoole — or Shakespeare may have used this very 
spelling himself At any rate, since shoal was pronounced [Jol] and 
school [skul], no homonymic pun is possible® A highly amusing case 
occurs in Qi of Hamlet, where the kettledrum and trumpet are said to 
bray out as the king “dreames, his draughts of Rennish downe" , here the 
printer clearly misread an ongmal dreanes, a common variant of drains, 
as dreames, and having done so, he was forced to insert a comma aftet 
the word to make some sense out of the line In general, t^owever, he seems 
to have inteifered comparatively little with acceptable doublets and variant 
spellings — ^at any rate there is no apparent scarcity of them in the text — 
and he faithfully reproduced such intentionally dialectal and vulgar forms 
as che vor ye, tashan, contigian, Wheeson, woosel, etc , not to mention 
the innumerable casgs of contraction, elision, and syncope which with 
very few exceptions fit the scansion of the line in question It is often 
uncertain whether it was the printer's adherence to copy or his misunder- 
standing of a form that made him retain a spelling that he might well have 

6 Nor IS any other kind of pun possible here The text had either shoal ‘shallow* or 
school, which could be confused orthographically but never semantically or phoneti- 
cally For the same reason a pun on shoal [Jo 1 ] ‘large number* and school is out of 
the question, whereas school Targe number’ and school are homonyms, but the 
context warrants no such quibble Moreover, the preposition on does not go uith 
school Mahood s attempt (pp 196 f ) to read some subtle ambiguity into this Macbeth 
passage is therefore without any linguistic foundation , it is simply another example of 
the literary scholar’s tendency to confuse sounds and letters (see further p 87, be- 



changed The retention of in for monosyllabic even in RJ 51 24 and 
AC 4 15 72 is a case in point Normally the compositor would probably 
have corrected such forms when they appeared in the manuscript to e'en 
or even, but here he allowed the original spelling to remain for the simple 
reason that he took it to be the adverb and preposition m But this ex- 
planation hardly applies to enow, enso, ento't, for which see p 204, 
below , perhaps the printer looked upon these as permissible variants of 
e'en now, e'en so, e'en to't and consequently decided to follow copy 

For comparison I have now and then adduced the valuable orthographic 
material in Henslowe^s Diary as transcribed by W W Greg Some paral- 
lels have further been cited from Robert Laneham’s letter of 1575 (ed 
Furnivall) Henry Machyn’s Diary (1550-63), has also been laid under 
occasional contribution, since his London origin has not, in my opinion, 
been convincingly disproved ^ 

The Metrical Evidence 

The use of the meter or scansion of a line as a source of information on 
Shakespeare’s pronunciation is limited to two phonological phenomena 
the incidence of the stress and the fluctuations in length of polysyllabic 
words It arises out of the tacit assumption that Shakespeare was an accom- 
plished metrist and that consequently his verse was intrinsically regular , 
that IS, regular with regard to the number of syllables used and to its con- 
formity with the contemporary accentuation of polysyllabic words Rhyth- 
mical variations due to the skillful, artistic balancing of significant stresses 
and the metrical stress need not concern us here, since they are stylistic 
rather than phonological problems But accentual deviations and the 
apparent use of hypermetrical lines lequire dose scrutiny on the basis of 
an adequate knowledge of Elizabethan pronunciation It will then be 
found that most of the alleged examples of prosodic irregularity are, in 
fact, instances either of the well-attested tendency to shorten (occasionally 
lengthen) a word or to fuse two adjacent words in a phrase, or else of 
the shifting of the accent from its present position to some other syllable 
m the word The difference in stress is usually accepted by everybody But 
illogically enough the curtailment of a word by syncopation, contraction, 
or elision is often vigorously denied it has unfortunately become a ques- 

7 In The Orthography and Pronunciation of Henry Machyn, the London Diarist, 
Axel Wijk boldly tries to make Machyn a Yorkshireman, basing his hypothesis ex- 
clusively on highly ambiguous dialect matenal , yet, as I expect to show in a forth- 
coming article, ample documentary evidence exists for assuming that the Machyn 
family had been residents of London at least smce 1400 



tion of faith which any student of Shakespeare feels free to decide on 
purely aesthetic or moral grounds ® Hence the cult of the anapaest, which 
has proved detrimental to a proper understanding of Shakespeare’s 

It is an anomaly in Shakespearean scholarship that those who have 
written most extensively on Shakespeare’s versification and whose in- 
fluence appears to have been most pervasive have been linguistically least 
qualified to express their views on the subtle problems involved The Rev 
Matthew A Bayfield, a classical scholar and a former headmaster of East- 
bourne College, became obsessed with a strange prosodic idea which 
prompted him to write A Study of Shakespeare's Versification (1910) Its 
purpose, he says in the Preface, was "'to show that there are many thou- 
sands of lines that are given in modern texts not as their author 
intended them to be delivered, but clipped and trimmed to a featureless 
uniformity that he would have abhorred ” He then launches out against 
abbreviated forms like to'f, fhave, by't, I'th'throat, etc , and "such ele- 
gancies as We'll see 'um starve first (Lear to Cordelia),” adding de- 
spondently, "The F, alas ^ our sole authority for twenty of the plays, is 
throughout more given to the practice than the quartos ” And he sums up 
his idea of Shakespeare’s prosody by saying that "the abbreviations in 
question must be expanded into the corresponding full forms” to enable 
us to read the text "as the poet meant it to be delivered ” One wonders 
what Bayfield wanted us to do with rhymes like joot too't, Kate ha't^ 
note know't and unambiguous spellings like hate (have it), beet (be it), 
tooked (took it) Of course he did not know that such "clipped” forms 
were used by everybody in those days both in speaking and in writing 
With uncalled-for indignation at the thought that Shakespeare might be 
accused of these heinous vulgarisms, the learned cleric tried to stamp his 
Victorian ideas of linguistic propriety on Shakespeare’s prosody If he 
had kept them to himself, he might have been forgiven But by publishing 
them he helped to bolster the unfounded notion that Shakespeare took 
almost any liberty with his verse Indeed, Bayfield’s absurdities are often 
treated with respect, for instance by the editors of the New Variorum 
Edition Yet the above quotations from his preface really should have 

8 Here is a typical example, from MV (Arden ed ), p 9, where Charles Knox 
Pooler comments as follows on Pope’s reading Then lefs say you* re sad (i i 47), for 
which F has Then let us say you are sad ‘Tope read ‘let’s’ for ‘let us’ and ‘you’re’ 
for ‘you are’ to the satisfaction of all finger-counters ” Needless to say, Pope was 
right and Pooler wrong, as every reader will agree who has patience enough to 
examine the overwhelming evidence of the use of syncopation, elision, contraction, 
etc, presented in the discussion of the Unstressed Vowels below 


sufficed to warn the critical reader what kind of prosodic revelations to 

At the ripe old age of ninety Sir George Young (1837-1929) gave to 
the scholarly world his swan song, An English Prosody on Inductive 
Lines (1928), which is not much more reliable than Bayfield’s product 
Apparently without knowing even the rudiments of the pronunciation used 
by Chaucer and Shakespeare, Sir George nevertheless undertook to ex- 
pound their prosodies to 20th-century readers ^ As a result we are treated 
to a host of trisyllabic feet in both writers, no doubt to the delight of those 
who wish to justify or condone metrical irregularities in modern poetry by 
reference to alleged practices of the same nature in Chaucer, Shakespeare, 
Milton, and other early poets 

Even such a careful metricist as Schipper is hampered by his defective 
knowledge of Shakespeare’s English Thus on p 228 of his History of 
English Versification (1910) he cites six cases of disyllabic thesis, only 
two of which seem to be relevant, while in the remaining lines syncopation 
or contraction should be used to regularize the scansion , to take one ex- 
ample, having R3 i 2 234 is monosyllabic, as often elsewhere (see p 270, 
below) On the other hand, in William Shakespeare^ Prosody and Text 
( 1900) van Dam and S toff el go to the other extreme by trying to eliminate 
every hypermetrical line through too rigorous a use of syncope, apocope, 
etc , their ruthless application of apocope is particularly disturbing, and 
no less their ignorance of English phonology, which leads them into all 
sorts of errors Nevertheless the underlying idea is sound seemingly 
11 regular lines can usually be made to scan by a judicious use of elision, 
syncope, anaptyxis, and the like, expedients which the written language 
shared with the spoken Alternatively, other explanations of the 11 regu- 
larity must be sought, e g , mislmeation, printers’ errors, careless cutting 
or reshuffling of speeches, or the tendency to greater metrical freedom 
said to be characteristic of Shakespeare’s mature years But these are 
problems outside the scope of the present investigation, which is con- 
cerned with Shakespeare’s prosody only so far as it throws light on his 
pronunciation Obviously, however, there is genuine need for re-examimng 
his versification on a strictly phonological basis and with due regard to 
16th-century metrical theories 

9 This IS a sample of his knowledge of Chaucerian pronunciation Commenting 
on the line Sholde lete fader and mooder and take me, he says (p 78), “The second 
0 m mooder is usually omitted, but even though the doubled vowel may have been 
correct, the sound given to it must have been that of short u in put Even worse is 
his comment on Shakespeare’s ou in Hower (p 176), which, however, is too long 
for inclusion here , yet part of it is quoted with approval by Danielson, p 579 



Fortunately we are not dependent on the scansion alone to determine 
how and when woids could be curtailed or lengthened to achieve metrical 
regularity Very often the syncopated vowel is simply left out, as in 
boystrous H 3 3 22, murdrous H 5 2 336, nunry H 3 i 122 (Q2), watry 
RJ i 4 62, desprat H 4 7 26, intemprat TNK 4 3 76, or else its omission 
IS indicated by an apostrophe, as in murderous R3 i 2 94, stand rous 
R3 I 2 97, mockery R3 3 ^ ^ 7 ^ lotf^y TC i 3 374 > 5 3 ^ 7 ^> 

temperately C 3 i 219 There is, of course, as little consistency here as in 
contemporary spelling full forms appear where the meter requires syn- 
copation or, sporadically, a syncopated form is used instead of the ex- 
pected full form , for details see pp 283 ff , below The poet himself rather 
than the typesetter is to blame for this carelessness, which after all is no 
more remarkable than the complete lack of consistency displayed by 
modern novelists m their attempts to reproduce dialect speech It is there- 
fore nothing but a violation of Shakespearean prosodic rules when editors 
disregard such unmistakable indications of syncopation as those cited 
above and print the corresponding full forms Thus, according to the 
data given in the New Variorum Edition, ventnng RL 148 is reproduced 
as venturing by eleven editors, including Kittredge, and as venturing by 
the rest , similarly sclandrous RL 161 is printed slanderous by only four 
editors, among them Kittredge, whereas desperate RL 219 appears in that 
form only in Kittredge’s edition If a modern actor or reciter prefers to 
read these forms as trisyllables or to follow the punted text instead of 
the obvious scansion of the line when confionted with phrases like / zvould, 
he has, they are, he is certainly entitled to do so, provided he does not 
claim that his reading agrees with Shakespeare^s practice Anapaests are 
on the whole rare in Shakespeare, and where they supposedly occur, synco- 
pation or other types of contraction or elision, e g , Fll, Pm, Pd, %'th, 6 * 1 ^ 
fhave, interest, medecine, will generally restore the metrical regularity of 
the line 

It should be emphasized here, I think, that all these syncopations and 
contractions, etc, undoubtedly imply the complete suppression of the 
elided vowel or syllable In the colloquial language words like difference, 
desperate, robbery, entering, several, etc , were genuine disyllables, and 
medicinal, indifferent, recovery, remembei mg, etc , were trisyllables, as 
most of them still are in St E ^ Because of their general lack of phonetic 

I Jones, An English Pronouncing Dictionary, records difference and several as 
disyllabic m St E , desperate and entering as either disyllabic or trisyllabic, robbery 
as trisyllabic and similarly indifferent, whereas medicinal and remembering are either 
trisyllabic or tetrasyllable , recovery, which is commonly heard with three syllables, 
IS reported with four in Jones 



training and their traditional dependence on the spelling, modern readers 
of Shakespeare are usually unwilling to admit the loss of the medial vowel 
in such words , in their impressionistic discussions of Shakespeare’s verse 
one hears expressions like ''slurring,” "almost disyllabic,” etc , but rarely 
a frank admission of the phonological fact They are apt to forget the 
existence of such early syncopations as captain < capitam, jrenzy < jrene- 
sie, parlous < perilous, palsy < parahsie, proctor < procurator, and many 
others, not to mention place-names like Cirencester ['sisita], Daventry 
[‘d^intri], Gloucester, and Salisbury Like Bayfield they would probably 
wish to expand card^nall and cardnall to cardinal, though the scansion 
proves these forms to be disyllabic in H8 2 i 48 and 3 2 285 , and they 
would be strongly opposed to printing Cardinall, likewise disyllabic at 
H8 31 103, 104, as Cardinal Perhaps their faith in the conventional 
spelling will be shaken by the disclosure of the grim pun on carnal in the 
last two examples, which presupposes a disyllabic pronunciation of cardinal 
with loss also of the medial d The weighty evidence for such a pronuncia- 
tion ['ka jn^l] presented below (pp 63 and 299) should convince even a 
doubting Thomas that syncopation and other forms of contraction were 
regular features of spoken English in the i6th century 

Of late certain students of literature, not philologists, have begun to 
use syncopated and contracted forms in Shakespeare as criteria of speech 
tempo and even as evidence of authorship Thus in The Twelfth Night 
of Shakespeare's Audience, John W Draper, following up an earlier arti- 
cle of his on "Speech Tempo in Act I of Othello,” tries to show variations 
in tempo by comparing contractions like Til with uncontracted I will, 
monosyllabic and assibilated -sion, -tion with the corresponding disyllabic 
and unassibilated variant But such variations have nothing to do with 
speech tempo — ^they are metrical devices pure and simple to make the 
line in question scan There is absolutely no difference in tempo between 
The form of my intent Til serve this duke (TN i 2 55) and What else 
may hap, to time I will commit (1 60) , both lines have ten syllables, 
though the former must use the contracted Til because of the immediately 
preceding intent In the second instance Shakespeare might very well 
have written instead to time Til soon commit, which is neither faster nor 
slower than the original version Similarly the Captain’s reply (1 62), 
Be you his eunuch, and your mute Til be^ implies no greater speed of 
utterance than if it read Be you his eunuch, I your mute will be Draper 
finds the same indication of tempo in Shakespeare’s prose dialogue Quot- 
ing Sir Andrew’s line (13 119-20), Til stay a month longer I am a 
fellow o'th* strangest mind ith' world, he comments "Sir Andrew boasts 
of his beautiful uniqueness, with fit, slow emphasis 'I am a fellow’ in 



striking differentiation from the abbreviations and slurrmgs that precede 
and follow” (p 269) Clearly he does not know nor has he bothered to 
find out that typographically indicated contractions of I am are extremely 
rare m Shakespeare (see p 276, below), with I am doubtless standing for 
Fm here as it does in such blank-verse lines as H 5 2 318, RJ 35 68, etc 
In fact, we have no means of determining today the quantity of the sounds 
used in Vm and I am , the former might have been emotionally prolonged 
to [91m] and the latter uttered very rapidly, perhaps [919m] To a 
philologist this idea of trying to measure speech tempo on the basis of the 
inconsistent Elizabethan typography appears to be nothing short of pre- 

By contrast A C Partridge’s paper The Problem of Henry VIII Re- 
opened IS not a loose, impressionistic comment on a few random lines in 
Shakespeare like Draper’s excursus just referred to but a carefully thought 
out and statistically supported comparison of the frequency of such 
doublets as them and ’m, ye and y’, etc Nevertheless, despite the striking 
number of cases of 'em in Act 5, sc 4, and the general preponderance of 
'em in the Fletcherian parts of the play, I am far from convinced that the 
typographical distribution of them and 'em is a reliable criterion of stylistic 
usage, let alone of authorship Partridge does not reckon with the possi- 
bility that any instance of unstressed them may conceal a pronunciation 
'em [9m], including such cases as to them H8 i i 25, i 2 32, know them 
I 2 46, where the spelling 'em might have led to the misreading to'm^ 
know'm Indeed, saw them H8 1 1 8 is obviously monosyllabic, that is, it 
should be read sa^&f m, which adds another instance to those of 'em mil 

compare the rhyme mistrusting them Buckingham R3, which implies 
the use of 'em, in spite of the spelling, as in grapple them H i 3 63 (see 
further p 275, below) Moreover, it is hardly correct to say that Shake- 
speare looked upon 'em as a mere colloquialism and less dignified than 
them,^ for 'em (even spelled um in Q) is frequently used by Lear, in fact, 
the very whimsical use of them and 'em m the latter play makes the statis- 
tics from H8 look suspect The printer may well have interfered here to 
change em to them would be a normalization that one might expect from 
him, and it would explain the inconsistencies in L , these may, however, 
just as well derive from the author, whose spelling was capricious Again, 
we must not forget that 'em was the regular unstressed form of them, as 

^ Dryden regularly uses ^em for unstressed them, e g , 

m f^r Love 3 243-5 (Dolabella) ^Tor shame, my lord, if not for love, receive 
em / With kinder eyes If you confess a man, / Meet ’em, embrace ’em, bid ’em wel- 
come to you 



clearly in Hs 4 3 124 as I mil leave um them, which has survived down 
to the present day though spelled them Even if we counted all the cases of 
them and 'em, of you, ye, and y', of on tt and on't, etc , and made elaborate 
statistical tables showing the distribution of these doublets not only within 
each play but also for the various dramatis personae, we should have made 
at best only a survey of the current typographical practice, without deter- 
mining its relationship to the author’s spelling 

The Rhyme Evidence 

As a criteiion of early NE pronunciation Shakespeare’s rhymes and, 
for that matter, the rhymes of any i6th- or 17th-century English poet are 
not so dependable as the reliable phonetic spelling or the homonymic pun 
The reason is, of course, that already in the i6th century, and probably 
earlier, there had apparently developed a rhyming tradition that was to 
some extent independent of the contemporary pronunciation Each new 
generation of poets preferred to use more or less the same rhymes as the 
preceding one and continued to do so long after some of the syllables they 
coupled in rhyme had ceased to be pronounced alike , in such cases the 
conventional spelling preserved an illusory, purely graphic or visual 
identity which had no counterpart in the pronunciation of the rhyming 
syllables This is the genesis of the eye rhyme, e g , love prove, good 
hlood, still a characteristic of English prosody 

Eye rhymes are therefore linguistic fossils in modern poetry, revealing 
the pronunciation of a former age They were once true rhymes, to the 
ear no less than to the eye Had the spelling kept pace with the pronuncia- 
tion, we should have had no eye rhymes today, nor should we be faced 
with the dilemma of determining how far a 16th-century poet like Shake- 
speare used such rhymes Of course most of his rhymes present no prob- 
lems at all , be see, day say, hfe mje, now allow, lust trust, etc , were as 
perfect then as they are now But this is not true of rhymes like break 
speak, love move, tongue long, fear bear, far war, and a host of others 
They are always phonologically significant per se, but their value as 
evidence of an author’s pronunciation is largely a question of chronology , 
It would naturally be greater for the 15th century than for the i6th and 
would become practically nil at the end of the i8th (disregarding here 
the possibility of dialectal rhyming) At one time or another during these 
four centuries each of these five rhymes ceased to be perfect they all be- 
came eye rhymes Phonological considerations suggest a very early date 
(perhaps before 1500) for love move, at least with southern writers But 



break speak, e g , may not have become an eye rhyme until the last quarter 
of the 17th century, ® in Shakespeare’s time it was still a perfect rhyme, 
pronounced with the vowel [§ ] 

What would be an eye rhyme today need not, therefore, have been one 
m, say, the i6th or 17th century, very often it was not But in any case it 
will be necessary to examine all the rhymes in this category with a view to 
determining whether they (i) reflect the polite usage of the day, (2) are 
to be regarded as regional or social variants heard within the capital, or 
(3) are to be classified as obsolescent pronunciations favored by conserva- 
tive speakers A case like cooled should is comparatively simple we know 
that an old-fashioned pronunciation [/u Id] (by the side of the normal 
colloquial variant [Jud] ) existed in Shakespeare’s time , the rhyme is con- 
sequently exact, even though it most likely does not reflect Shakespeare’s 
own usage No certainty is possible, however, with regard to rhymes of 
the common t5^pe love prove and last haste Ben Jonson’s statement that 
prove had the same vowel as love, that is, some kind of [a], raises the 
problem of whether such a pronunciation was actually current among 
polite London speakers or whether it was a dialectal variant affected by 
poets because it rhymed with love Of course we cannot tell whether Shake- 
speare ever used to say [prAv] His rhyme last haste may likewise be a 
hardy survivor from an earlier stage of the language, when words like 
haste, taste had doublets with a — or, again, it may be a case of inexact 
linking of [ae ] and ] (see p 176, below) 

A related problem, still unsolved, concerns the attitude of the Eliza- 
bethan actor to an obvious eye rhyme did he stick to his normal pro- 
nunciation or did he adjust it so as to obtain full agreement between the 
two rh3nne words? In the case of current phonetic doublets he almost 
certainly modified his pronunciation to suit the rhyme, pronouncing, e g , 
the endings 4 y and -y with [1 ] to rhyme with be, me, and with [91] to 
rhyme with eye, he But it is questionable whether he would have 
changed his regular [u ] in prove to [a], or his [a] in love to [u ] m 
order to give full value to the rh3mie love prove In Logonomta Angltca 
(p 123) Gill reveals what may have been the usual practice of dealing 
with such rhymes he reproduces Spenser’s love move as luv muv, that 
IS, approximately [luv] [mu v] , since he always has u [u] in love and 
w [u ] in move, we may assume that those who had instead [a] in love 

3 Pope as a Londoner must have used [1 ] in speak, sea, but he rhymed them 
with take, day, as Dryden and earlier poets had done, it is possible, of course, that 
his tutor taught him to use the obsolescent [§ ] in reading, a vowel recommended 
as late as 1726 by Tuite m The Oxford Spelhng'-Book in preference to the London 

b I 


and [u ] in move followed his example by using their normal pronuncia- 
tion in rhymes of this kind 

While Shakespeare undoubtedly used eye rhymes, he did not have what 
Wrenn calls "'traditional spelling-rhymes,"' that is, rhymes which were, 
“in the early modern period, based simply on spelling and were therefore 
linguistically incorrect " ^ Unfortunately love grove^ Wrenn's sole ex- 
ample of this kind of rhyme, is irrelevant, for in several dialects near 
London, and probably within the London area itself, ME q and g had 
been leveled under the former so that today both are pronounced [u ], 
[u], or [a], as in [stu n], [stun], [stAn] This development explains the 
vowel in modern St E none, nothing, struck ® Chaucer has rhymes in- 
dicating this leveling, eg, doom hoom (doom home, MkT 3123-4), 
wroth soth (BD 513-14),® and they appear in early modern poetry as 
well, eg, looke smooke (smoke) in Gammer Gurton's Needle (12 19- 
20), where the spelling smooke clearly shows how the word was meant 
to be pronounced, shook broke, look spoke m Spenser, and too go in 
Bullokar, etc Nor is Milton's joul soul to be interpreted in that way, for 
similar rhymes occur in Shakespeare and earlier poets (see p 245, below) 
The only example I can recall that looks suspiciously like a “spelling- 
rhyme" is Chaucer's rody body (ruddy body, BD 143-4), the first word 
having ME u and the second ME 0 or possibly g , yet if we can trust EDGr, 
there are southern dialects that have [a] in body, whatever may be its 
possible connection with the variant used in Chaucer's rhyme 

No magic formula exists by means of which we can single out the eye 
rhymes in Shakespeare Each significant rhyme or group of rhymes must 
be studied individually, it must be compared with the rhyming practice 
of Shakespeare’s contemporaries and predecessors, notably Spenser, and 
Its testimony interpreted in the light of collateral phonological evidence 
A complete catalogue of all the rhymes used by Spenser was courteously 
placed at my disposal by Mr Philip Davies, formerly of the University 
of Wisconsin, and references in this book to Spenser's usage are based on 
this list and on Gabnelson's findings as reported in Rtme as a Cntenon of 
the Pronunciation of Spenser, Pope, Byron, and Swinburne Moreover, I 
have checked all the more important rh3niies against the huge collection 
of nearly a million English rhymes from 1500 to 1900 brought together 
at the University of Wisconsin by Professor Miles L Hanley, general 
statements on the rhyming practices of i6th- and 17th-century poets (with 

4 “The Value of Spelling as Evidence,” p 36 

5 See EDGr, §§121 f and Index, also Sf Dial, §§293 ff See further p 231, below 

6 ten Brink, Chaucers Sprache und Verskunst, §32 

7 Rtme, §141 , Bullokar, pp 118 f 



or without exemplification) always refer to material derived from this 
collection ® For comparison I have sometimes adduced rhymes from Shake- 
speare’s fellow dramatists and from the earliest rhyming dictionaries in 
English, Peter Levins’ Mampulus vocahulorum (1570) and ‘"A Dic- 
tionary for the Making of Rimes,” published in Edward Phillips’ The 
Mysteries of Love and Eloquence (3d ed, 1685) ® As a result of this 
detailed checking of Shakespeare’s rhymes and in consideration of what 
IS already known of late 16th-century pronunciation, my impression is that 
such common rhymes as love prove, move, etc , good blood, last haste, 
taste, etc , had already become eye rhymes in Shakespeare’s time and there- 
fore throw little light upon his pronunciation 

The phonologically significant rhymes in Shakespeare are not, how- 
ever, all traditional Several of them turn out to be quite modern, in the 
sense that they reveal either new trends in the contemporary pronuncia- 
tion or else the existence of phonetic doublets that were later to become 
the standard forms To the average leader the rhymes extremes deems, 
seems are completely uninteresting, but to anyone familiar with eNE 
phonology they constitute unambiguous evidence of the use of [1 ] in 
extreme, probably a colloquial variant of the more polite [^ ], which is 
perhaps indicated by the rhyme extreme dream (but note dream argen- 
tine) Even dialectal rhymes occur sporadically A very common char- 
acteristic of Shakespeare’s rhyming, which reflects the instability of con- 
temporary London speech, is the freedom with which phonetic doub- 
lets are used in rhyme again, for instance, rhymes not only with vain, 
ram, etc , but as frequently with men, then, etc , gone rhymes both with 
alone, etc , and with on, and words in -y and 4 y rhyme with he, me and 
with eye, he Occasionally a long vowel is linked with its short equivalent 
as in dream them, etc , a practice that may perhaps help to explain some 
of the possible eye rhymes 

Unlike Peele and other predecessors, Shakespeare seems to avoid the 
use of mascuhne-feminine rhymes The following appear to be the only 
conclusive cases m his works array Sunday TS, weighty why TS, 
eglantine woodbine MND, melancholy thee (unless melancholy 
syncopated its 0), see story H8, in women H8, man woman H8 ep, 
^0 venuto TS, comedy zany UJL, secretly Thisbe MND Bnt in lets' 
doucets TNK the second word may well have been stressed on the final 

8 Detailed references have been given only in exceptional cases, since the rhymes 
can readily be verified at the Umversity of Wisconsin 

9 First ed published in 1658 

I But hardly melancholy mightily R3 1 1 136--7, which occurs in an unrhymed 


syllable — cf plain certain MND — in which case the preceding eat his 
should be contracted to eafs For steeple invisible see below, p 267 In 
apothecary die RJ the medial e should be syncopated, thus apothecary 
If we exclude the H8 rhymes, which appear in the Fletcherian parts of the 
play, the doubtful case in TNK, and the obviously parodistic Thisbe rhyme, 
there remain only six safe instances of this practice For this reason it is 
impossible to accept several other alleged rhymes like more Cawdor^ 
duty me, like it wit^ lets me thee, value you, with her sir, which occur 
in otherwise unrhymed passages but have, nevertheless, been included in 
the computations published by Ness in The Use of Rhyme in Shakespearees 
Plays 2 

All the rhymes to be found in Shakespeaie’s poems and plays (the 
Folio and all the Quarto texts preceding it) have been listed alphabeti- 
cally in the Rhyme Index on pp 399-495, below 

Shakespeare’s Use o£ Dialect and Broken English 

Henry Bradley’s contention (p 570) that "'the fashion of representing 
rustic speech in literature appears to be no older than the middle of 
the sixteenth century” seems to accord well with facts, provided we dis- 
regard Mak’s very short and futile assumption of southern speech as a 
disguise in The Second Shepherds’ Play and John and Aleyn’s convincing 
northern idiom m Chaucer’s Reeve’s Tale , though foreshadowing what is 
to come, these two earlier instances of dialect in literature are admittedly 
not quite analogous with what we find in the Tudor and Stuart drama 
Respublica, a morality of 1553, and the interlude Gammef Gurton’s 
Needle of about 1560® are actually the first dramatic pieces in which 
rustic characters are individualized by linguistic peculiarities now con- 

2 The individual statistics for each play given by Ness, pp 112-54, are all in- 
accurate Not only has he included the dubious masculine-femmine rhymes just 
referred to and others of the same kind but he has omitted scores of good rhymes , 
thus he records from WT a total of 38 rhymes but has left out a batch of five con- 
secutive rhyming lines m 2 3 33-7 1 Moreover, he thinks that grave love, hour calen- 
dar, master enter, and not foot were rhymes — a. phonological absurdity 

3 The play was written by “Mr S Mr of Art,” who apparently belonged to 
Christ's College, Cambridge, and printed in 1575 Bradley, m Gay ley’s Representative 
English Comedies, i, 198, makes a pretty strong case for William Stevenson, Fellow 
of Christ’s College, 1559-di, who was bom at Hunwick in Durham Should this 
ascription be correct, Stevenson’s use of the southern dialect throughout the play 
would be a remarkable achievement, since there are apparently very few spurious 
forms , wese (we shall) and thouse (thou shalt), however, are not exclusively north- 
ern (see p 280, below), while syller (silver), rhyming with pyller (2 i 43-4), seems 
to be a genuine northermsm 



fined mainly to the southwest of England This is equally true of Piker- 
yng*s Horestes (1567) These and other pre-Shakespearean plays ^ usher 
in the practice of bringing country yokels on the stage speaking a stereo- 
typed southwestern dialect for the amusement of the audience Other 
dialects are also used at times, but Bradley errs in saying that Ben Jonson’s 
Sad Shepherd is the ''first attempt in dramatic writing to represent any 
midland or northern variety of provincial English” , he has overlooked 
Shakespeare’s Henry V, where the Scottish Captain Jamy appears, and 
Greene’s slightly earlier drama The Scottish History of James IV, not 
to mention the still earlier interlude The Conflict of Conscience (printed 
in 1581) ® 

As I have pointed out elsewheie,® there were two good reasons for the 
choice of the rustic speech of the south and southwest as an appropriate 
medium for portraying comic characters and comic situations First of all 
the southern (or southwestern) ^ dialect was not so far removed from tne 
language of the capital as to be unintelligible — ^intelligibility is a sine qua 
non for any stage dialect Secondly, the southern dialect had some sti iking 
peculiarities which could easily be imitated Southern people in general 
used, eg, to voice their initial fricatives [f, s, J] to [v, 2, 3] and the 
initial combination [6r] to [dr], pronouncing free as vree, summer as 
summer, ship as ship, and thrash as drash ® Moreover, southerners said 
ich for /, combining the pronoun proclitically with a following auxiliary 
and modal as in cham 'I am,’ chill 'I will,’ chud 'I would,’ and so on Thus 
in Thomas Howell’s poem "Jack shows his qualities and great good will 
to Jone” (about 1570) Jack tries to undermine Jone’s maidenly resistance 
by the assurance cham sure cham good , he also says chwot and chave 
And similarly the stupid farmer’s wife in Gifford’s “A Meiry Jest” (1580) 
tells the wandering scholar whom she believes to have come from Paradise 
(he had said Pans) 

Cham sure my vurst goodman is dere 
Which died this other yere 

This conventional stage dialect coincides most nearly with the present 
dialects of Somerset, Dorset, and Devon Gill (1621), who does not dis- 

4 Eg, Udall’s Ralph Roister Dotster, Bariona- Johnson’s (?) Misogoms, and 
Fulwell’s Like Will to Like, see further Eckhardt, i, 10 ff 

5 Eckhardt, j, 94 ff 

6 Shakespeare s Use of Dialect,’^ PP 5 f The present chapter is essentially a 
reprint of that paper 

7 From the point of view of late ME and eNE, 'southern’ is the more appropriate 
term (see below) 

8 Vane «fane) and tnxen «fixen) are survivals m StE of this southern 



tinguish too precisely between the southwestern and western dialects but 
erroneously includes Somerset among the latter, has this to say (p 33) 
about the western type 

At inter omnes dialectos, nulla cum Occidentali aequam sapit barbariem , 
et maxime si rusticos audias in agro Somersettensi dubitare enim quis 
facile possit utrum Anglice loquantur, an peregnnu aliquod idioma 

The particular offensiveness of the Somerset dialect may have been a pre- 
conception m those days, which perhaps prompted its use on the stage 
However that may be, the dialect features used by the early playwrights 
are not those classified as western by &1II but what he gives (p 32) as 
typically southern 

Australes usurpant v pro f , ut, v%l pro fil impleo , ut vech pro jech 
affero & contra /, pro Vy ut fineger pro vineger acetum, ficavy pro vicar 
vicarius Pro s substituunt Zy ut zmg pro smg cano & Ichy pro I ego 
chamy pro I am sum chily pro I zml volo cht vor yt, pro I warant youy 
certum do 

In the early NE period these characteristics appear to have been used 
all over the south, from Kent in the east to Gloucester in the west ® In 
the course of time, however, Kent lost some of these traits, so that today — 
as perhaps already m Shakespeare’s time — only Somerset and the adjacent 
counties retain them It would be futile to try to determine the precise 
region that may have served as the linguistic model The playwrights were 
no dialectologists , they were interested in only one thing to write a 
dialogue that sounded rustic enough to be funny Theirs was consequently 
a synthetic dialect, employing only the most conspicuous peculiarities in 
pronunciation and grammar We must expect neither consistency nor 
exactness of reproduction from them — ^m this they differ in no way from 
modern novelists or dramatists confronted with the same task no attempt 
is made to achieve phonetic exactness, the ordinary spelling is used in a 
vaguely phonetic manner, picturesque spellings like ter (=[t9]) for to 
or brort (=[brD t] ) for brought are frequently resorted to, though dia- 
lectally they rarely mean anything at all, while a genuine dialectal form 
may appear only once or twice in a semiphonetic spelling, the rest of the 
time in its traditional orthography To a reader familiar with the dialect 
in question these hints are usually enough he can easily fill m the gaps, 
for in his mind’s ear he hears already the whole gamut of sounds and 
intonations In like manner Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights must 
have relied on their actois to do the job for them the cham's and the 
chirs and the vrom's and the zed's were there merely as signposts for the 

9 See, e g , Jordan, §§208, 215 



actor to follow That this stage dialect at times became hypercorrect can- 
not be doubted , that happens today even with trained reciters of dialect 
stories and poems No instance of this tendency can, however, be discov- 
ered in Shakespeare’s brief dialect passages 

It seems odd, somehow, that Shakespeare, who created so many amus- 
ing clowns and who gave so much thought to the vivid representation of 
the broken English of foreigners, should have in his whole production 
only one short scene in this conventional stage dialect, the altercation 
between Oswald the Steward and Edgar in L 4 6 235-51 The F text has 
many more dialectal spellings than Qi, which on the other hand has two 
forms, cagxon (occasion) and vohe (folk), that seem more genuine than 
the F 'casion and volke Incorporating these into the F text we obtain the 
following version of Edgar’s lines 

Chill not let go Zir, without vurther cagion 

Good Gentleman, goe your gate, and let poore voke passe and ’chud ha' 
bin zwaggerd out of my life, 'twould not ha' bm zo long as 'tis, by a vort- 
night Nay, come not neere th' old man keepe out che vor'ye, or ice try 
whither your costard, or my hallow be the harder, chill be plaine with you 

Chill picke your teeth Zir come, no matter vor your foynes 

That IS all, and the phonological data to be extracted from this passage 
are neither numerous nor particularly significant The voicing of initial 
/ and y is well evidenced in vurther, voke, vortmghf, vor (but not m the 
loanword foynes), zir, zwaggerd, zo Next we notice the use of the 
proclitic variant of ich in chill, chud, and che vor^ye, where an [9] has 
developed between cV and the following consonant The latter phrase is 
of particular interest because m every edition of the play it is erroneously 
translated 1 warn you,’ although it is a dialectal variant of the common 
asseveration T warrant you ’ It is indeed surprising that those who have 
commented on the phrase have usually referred to Gill’s account of the 
southern dialect characteristics without noticing, however, that he gives 
chi vor yi (the diaeresis indicates vowel length in Gill) with an English 
and a Latin translation I warrant you, cerium do ” The appearance of 0 
in vor' IS phonologically very important, for it shows that war had already 
become fully rounded to [wd (t)] in this southern type of speech, as 
doubtless in London ^ The forms ha\ bin, and whither were all current in 
Elizabethan English, Shakespeare himself uses them many a time The 
loss of I in voke (folk) is what we should expect m London, whereas the 

I See further my article ‘^Alexander Gill (1621) on the Dialects of South and 
East England," pp 280 ff , partly reprinted with additional material m ^Elizabethan 
Che vor ye 1 warrant you,' " MLN, 57 (1942), 98 ff 



aphetic form cagion (occasion) looks hke an analogical change of [3] 
to [d3] or an instance of sound-substitution Ice for ‘I shall’ is usually 
explained as a typical northernism,® but its occurrence in the present 
didects of w Wo and D reveals that it must have been a colloquialism 
common to the south and the north , see further p 280, below Go your 
gate, now considered a northernism, probably had a wider currency in 
Elizabethan times and earlier, for Gower, for instance, uses gate in the 
sense ‘road’ (OED), while hallow , likewise said to be northern,^ has 
actually been reported also from Kent (EDD) 

From a dialectal point of view this passage from King Lear is there- 
fore nothing but a patchwork of current colloquialisms and conventional 
stage dialect A more indulgent view would be to interpret it as a fairly 
realistic representation of a Bedlam beggar’s jargon, with linguistic odds 
and ends from many quarters added to this stage idiom of rusticity In 
either case its chief object was to provide Edgar with a linguistic disguise, 
and as such it served its purpose 

In Act 2, sc 3, of the same play Edgar announces his intention of 
mimicking a Bedlam beggar, one of those unfortunate vagabonds who 
“with roaring voices Sometimes with Lunaticke bans, sometime 
with Praiers, Inforce their charitie ” He then practices the Beggar’s whine 
“Poore Turlygod, poore Tom,” ending his soliloquy with the words, 
“That’s something yet * Edgar I nothing am ” The rhyme Tom am, which 
ends this scene almost like a flourish, is striking though not unique in 
either Shakespeare or Spenser , it was probably meant to be dialectal, with 
[a] in both words, as commonly in the southwest and also in Wa (see 
p 224, below) This seems to be the only other indication that Edgar used 
dialect His other speeches contain no spellings or rhymes to show that 
he spoke in dialect all the time Gloucester’s remark (4 6 10), “Methmks 
y’are better spoken,” merely implies that at that very moment Edgar is 
speaking rationally On the other hand, the Fool in the play dashes off 
a string of rhymes which at first glance appear to be dialectal, viz , caught 
her daughter slaughter halter after, in which the common vowel can 
hardly have been anything else than [a ] , the fact that Ben Jonson rhymes 
water daughter slaughter after makes the dialectal character of the 
Fool’s rhyme appear less likely (see further p 183, below) 

There is nothing to show that the worthy country justices Shallow and 
Silence, the former’s cousin Slender, and the two servants Simple and 
Davy added local color to their scenes by speaking some kind of Gloucester- 
shire dialect Shallow and Slender naturally enough use the local pro- 

2 Eckhardt, i, 77 , Bradley, p 571 

3 Bradley, p 571 , Onions, p 12 



nunciation Cotsall MWW i i 92 for ^Cotswold/ and the former twice 
mentions old Dooble 2H4 3 2 45, 58, an inconclusive spelling perhaps 
intended to convey a dialectal [u] The initial y in Yead Miller MWW 
I 1 160 IS not restricted to Gloucester, however, though it is typical of that 
dialect, nor is it possible, for the same reason, to rely on the Q spelling 
woosel (ousel) 2H4 329, for Bottom uses the same form in the song 
by which he wakens Titania (MND 3 i 128) Some dialectal confusion 
between final t and d would make the pun coat-cod m MWW i i 15-27 
phonologically understandable (see p 100, below) One pronunciation 
used by Simple appears to be genuinely dialectal, vi7 , wee-face MWW 
I 4 22 '"No forsooth he hath but a little wee-face , with a little yellow 
Beard a Caine coloured Beard In Q we find instead a whay coloured 
beard, an unmistakable hint that wee-face is identical with whay-face 
^ 5 3 17 (see p 178, below) Hadeland (headland) 2H4 5 i 16, used by 
Davy, could reflect a southwestern [h^d], though such a variant with 
[§ ] may equally well have been heard m London at the time Slender's 
use of the plural hath MWW i i 15 cannot be explained as dialectal 
either, since Shakespeare uses it elsewhere too ^ 

How, we may ask, did the characters speak who plied their business in 
or round the Boar's Head in East Cheap, in particular Mrs Quickly and 
Doll Tearsheet^ That their language was vigorous, direct, and often 
bawdy we know, but are we entitled to assume that they were Cockneys 
m the sense that they used a vulgar brand of London English^ I think 
we are, provided we remember that the gulf between this lower-class type 
of speech and the more conservative, fashionable idiom of the upper 
classes was not so wide as it is today Gill ( 1621 ) refers sneeringly (p 14) 
to the speech of bubulci et portiores, the vulgar pronunciation of unedu- 
cated town and country people, which he maintained was also in vogue 
with London women Among the pronunciations Gill particularly de- 
nounces we find [1 ] for ME g in leave, meat and the monophthongization 
of ME ai to [§ ] in play, pray, maid, both of which Shakespeare used (he 
had, besides, [^ ] in leave , see pp 199 f , below) Gill (p 33) further ob- 
jects to the very close vowel for ME a, which was apparently the same as for 
ai, that is [^ ] , to [gi ] for give, and [ jo] , [pa] for you, your, etc In those 
days everybody dropped his ^’s or, to speak phonetically, pronounced 
final, unstressed in making as [in] or [n], and no social stigma at- 
tached as yet to the dropping of A's The misuse of words, what we some- 
what anachromstically call malapropism, seems to have been the principal 
linguistic offence perpetrated by uneducated Londoners and held up to 
ridicule by Shakespeare Mrs Quickly more than anyone else among his 
4 See Franz, §174 



comic characters commits such blunders, with Bottom and Dogberry as 
close seconds From a study of these malapropisms and of the bawdy puns 
that Shakespeaie places in her mouth, supposedly without her realizing 
what she is saying,® and from an examination of a few phonetic spellings 
in her speeches, we can nevertheless glean some information concerning 
the character of vulgar English in the Tudor period These data will be 
surveyed in the following paiagraphs 

When Mrs Quickly uses exion for ^action,’ alhgant for ‘elegant,’ and 
allicoly for ‘melancholy,’ we spot the Cockney tendency of leveling [ae] 
and [g] under the latter — alhgant and alhcoly (MWW i 4 164, allychoUy 
is also used by the Host, TGV 4 2 27) ® are probably hypercorrect forms, 
or they illustrate another Cockney tendency, the lowering and centralizing 
effect on e of the dark, velar I ^ Like most Londoners, educated as well as 
uneducated, she often raised ^ to t as in Gtnnys case ‘genitive case’ and 
tirnts ‘terrors’ , but note her use of the old-fashioned form Lubbar (leop- 
ard) 2H4 2 I 31 (see p 190, below) Her normal pronunciation of er 
was doubtless ar, it, [a ], as in tashan (tertian), with loss of its pre- 
consonantal r, and fartuous (virtuous, < eailier vertuous) She seems to 
have had a long vowel in Wheeson (Whitsun) and Peesel (Pistol, with a 
pun on piszle), while ‘homicide’ and ‘homicidal’ become hony-seed and 
hony-suckle (2H4 2 i 56 ff ) According to Q she said crysombd for 
‘Christian’ (F Chnstome, H5 2 3 12), for which see p 302, below We 
notice further her hypercoirect use of / for v in Pheasar (vizier) and the 
above fartuous, her voicing of intervocalic p m debuty (deputy), and hei 
unvoicing of final d in Lumbert (Lombard) 2H4 2 i 31 (Q) Quotidian 
she corrupts into contigian with assibilation of [dj] to [d5] as today in 
vulgar ojus and, perhaps, her own good-ier (see p 309, below) , and with k 
for initial qu as often in Romance loanwords, eg, her canaries for 
‘quandaries ’ For ‘wilt’ she says woo't, wot, etc, combining it with un- 
stressed thou to wot ta, for ‘rustling’ rushhng, and for ‘pulses’ pulsidge, 
all of which will be dealt with below Not without interest is beseeke (be- 
seech) 2H4 2 4 175, a probably obsolescent southern variant of beseech 
to be compared with Chaucer’s frequent beseke by the side of beseche ® 

5 The best example of this techmque is probably 2H4 2 i, the first part of which is 
a string of double-entendres like stab, weapon, fotn, thrust, score, case, mark (probably 
with reference to the tax tallies), etc 

6 This IS a doubtful case, since melancholy had an early doublet malencohe (OED) 

7 For this tendency see Sf Dial , §§24, 256, Ward, p 74 

8 Beseeke is given as an old northern and north Midland form in OED and Onions, 
but It IS no more northern than modern seek, whose final k undoubtedly comes from 
the 2d and 3d person sg pr , these were probably more frequent than the ist sg and 
pi , which on the other hand were normally used m beseech 



A few Similar instances occur in the speeches of other vulgar characters 
in Shakespeare’s plays, but it is striking how little Shakespeare apparently 
cared for the phonetic peculiarities of this type of English , at any rate, he 
rarely bothered to indicate them graphically, perhaps leaving such means 
of characterization entirely to the imitative ability of the individual actor 
Bully Bottom, eg, drops the h in Ercles MND 1231, 42, says per fit 
(Qq, II 99, III), probably pronounced [pa jfit], and uses the dialectal 
thtsne (2x) in the same scene (I55) ® Snout’s parlous MND 3 i 14 is, 
however, a common colloquialism,^ and Quince’s shrike i 2 78 occurs in 
the King’s speech in R2 3 3 183 Similarly Pistol’s erne H5 2 3 2, 5 reap- 
pears as earnes m JC 22 129, for the possible derivation of earn from 
yearn see earn in OED Gobbo’s phtlhorse MV 2 2 100 and Dull’s jar- 
borough LLL I I 185 are cases of [f] for [6], said to be a Cockney fea- 
ture (see p 321, below) For Dogberry’s aspiHous, vagrom, and suffigance 
see pp 183, 302, and 318, below The Gravedigger’s puns sexton-sixteen 
and her e-year (see pp 144 and 309, below) are phonologically important, 
and even more so his malapropism argali (3x) for 'ergo,’ discussed on 
p 181, below 

The northern dialects are represented by four speeches in H5 3 2, 
where the Scottish Captain Jamy makes his only appearance m the play 
Simultaneously a Welsh captain Fluellen and an Irish captain Macmorris 
are on the stage to entertain the audience with their broken English These 
are Jamy’s lines 

I say gudday, Captame Fluellen 

It sail be vary gud, gud feith, gud Captens bath, and I sail quit you with 
gud leve, as I may pick occasion that sail I mary 

By the Mes, ere theise eyes of mine take themselves to slomber ayle de 
gud service, or He ligge I’tE grund for it, ay, or goe to death and He pay*t 
as valorously as I may, that sal I suerly do, that is the breff and the long 
mary, I wad full fame heard some question tween you tway 

Captain Jamy’s language differs m no way from similar instances of 
Scots in contemporary plays ^ Gud (good) may stand for [gAd] or 
[by d], while ue in suerly may represent [y ] , grund is clearly [grAnd] 
Bath and tzvay go back to northern ME a from unrounded OE d , today 

9 Since Bottom is pretending to be Thisbe calling for Pyramus, it is most unlikely 
that he would begin by calling Thishe, even though the F printer erroneously capital- 
ized and Italicized the word, moreover, he uses Thishie correctly in the immediately 
preceding and following lines (54, 56) 

1 This form occurs elsewhere in Shakespeare (see p 250, below) and should prob- 
ably be used for disyllabic perilous (see Appendix i, p 388) 

2 See Eckhardt, i, 91 ff 

Shakespeare's use of dialect 


we find [bei 0 ] or [be 0 ] and [twe ] or [twa ] The Scottish diphthong 
[ei] for ME i is reflected in ayle (note the inconsistent use of He immedi- 
ately afterward) Leve (leave) should very likely be interpreted as [li v] , 
though the spelling is ambiguous The e% in jeith points to a close vowel 
[e ] , but I do not know quite how to interpret theise , its e% may stand for 
[i ] or [e ] If de for 'do' is unstressed, it stands for [di] , if fully stressed, 
we should read it [di ] An open vowel [se] is indicated in vary, and a close 
[^] in Mes (said to be typically northern, OED) Wad is either [wad] or 
[wAd] Captens is perhaps an attempt to render the syllabic n or merely a 
picturesque spelling, and breff seems to indicate a short vowel In the 
treatment of the consonants we note the initial j in sail and the plosive g 
in hgge And finally we have the omission of the auxiliary have in 'T wad 
full fame heard," a syntactical feature not, however, confined to Scotland 

It has been suggested that Costard in LLL may have used some form 
of northern pronunciation, and there are actually a few sporadic hints to 
that effect First of all we have vara for 'very' (52 487), but pursents 
(presents) in the next line is a common vulgarism Then we find the pun 
wards-words, for which see pp 153 and 172, below, and the adverb where- 
until (5 2493, 501), which seems to be genuinely northern The Daugh- 
ter's song TNK 3 4 19-24 contains the northern rhyme knee eie and he's 
(he shall) In this connection I may mention another alleged northern- 
ism,^ namely, barne (2x) WT 3371, meaning 'child' Barn (<OE 
beam) was, however, formerly current all over England, and Shakespeare 
uses It not only in WT but also in AW ( i 3 28) and m MA (3 4 49) , where 
Beatrice puns on it in a very unmaidenly fashion A clever touch of local 
(Yorkshire) color is introduced in J 42 150-2, where Philip the Bastard 
employs the rhyme noon crown, that is, St E [u ] in noon, and northern 
[u ] in crown, when quoting Peter of Pomfret’s alleged prophecy 

To whom he sung in rude harsh sounding rimes. 

That ere the next Ascension day at noone, 

Your Highnes should deliver up your Crowne 

The broken English of foreigners, which Shakespeare takes apparent 
delight in, is purely conventional in every respect ^ It is of interest to us 
only when it throws light on contemporary Elizabethan pronunciation 
Thus the French doctor's van for 'one' reveals the existence of the variant 
[wAn] in London, while his turd for 'third' proves the coalescence of vr 
and ur under [3 ] (see pp 232 and 253, below) Princess Katherine's 
effort to learn English (H5 34) provides us not only with bawdy puns 

3 Bradley, p 571 

4 See Ecldiardt, Vol 2 



but also with some phonological data, like the use of i m neck, elbow So 
does Hugh Evans’ Welsh accent with its unvoicing of voiced consonants, 
which has been exploited for a couple of puns These instances and a few 
others of the same kind have been duly noted in the Phonology 

We have seen, consequently, that Shakespeare’s dramatic use of dialect 
does not differ phonologically from similar efforts by contemporary dram- 
atists Like them Shakespeare contented himself with sketching in the 
broadest features of the conventional stage dialect, whether southern or 
northern, without bothering much about exactness or consistency There 
is, however, one interesting and perhaps even significant difference be- 
tween his practice and that of his fellow playwrights Shakespeare’s 
primary aim was apparently not to provoke laughter by the use of dialect 
but to portray character In Edgar’s case dialect serves as a disguise to 
prevent discovery, in Captain Jamy’s case it is not much more than a 
label — ^the national character of the play required the presence of an Eng- 
lish, a Scottish, an Insh, and a Welsh captain among the dramatis per- 
sonae Whenever Shakespeare used language as a vehicle for low comedy 
he resorted to one of two methods, which he sometimes combined he 
made the character in question mix malapropisms with coarse word- 
play or he introduced a foreigner, usually a Frenchman or a Welshman, 
who butchered the English language, not infrequently in a bawdy fashion 
To Shakespeare, apparently, the dialect speaker was not ridiculous be- 
cause of his idiom What he laughed at was the misuse of big words by 
the uneducated to give themselves airs, the oversophisticated jargon of 
the learned and the ultrafashionable, and the linguistic blunders of the 
English-speaking foreigner 

Shakespeare’s own use of dialect is another problem altogether In an 
earher chapter I have tried to visualize what might have happened lin- 
guistically when the Warwickshire man with “small Latin and less Greek’’ 
became a London actor and playwnght of repute An adjustment to the 
speech habits of the acting profession and the fashionable set is bound to 
have taken place, but we have no means today of ascertaining how com- 
plete this was If we had, we should perhaps be in a better position to an- 
swer the perenmal question whether Shakespeare ever betrays his War- 
wickshire origin in his writings With our imperfect knowledge of the 
early history of English dialects, any answer would be hazardous It is 
my impression, nevertheless, that we have some evidence of Shakespeare’s 
Warwickshire badcground, however inconclusive it may on the whole 
seem to be In this case, perhaps, the cumulative effect may be allowed to 
counterbalance the indefiniteness of the individual data 

One obvious method would be to examine Shakespeare’s vocabulary for 



possible Warwickshire words The best of such studies so far is C T 
Onions’ brief survey in the preface to his A Shakespeare Glossary ® There 
Onions lists two dozen words localizable to Warwickshire or at all events 
to the Midland area Nevertheless, reliable criteria are still extremely hard 
to establish for word studies of this nature on account of the imperfect and 
haphazard manner in which dialect vocabularies have hitherto been com- 
piled On the other hand, even if the appearance of a word in Shakespeare 
and in the modern Warwickshire dialect should happen to be only a coin- 
cidence, it IS valuable to have such points of agreement on record for 
future use 

The phonological evidence in favor of Warwick is not much safer We 
have a few rhymes that seem to be dialectal, but again we cannot be abso- 
lutely certain that the pronunciations implied could not have been heard 
also in London Thus Shakespeare rhymes wan on, man one — cf Edgar’s 
rhyme Tom am — ^which like craft doffed (regularly spelled daft) may 
have been at least partially due to his Warwickshire background in War- 
wick [o] may still be heard for StE [se] before a nasal, as in [mon] 
(man), while on the other hand o is frequently unrounded to [a] — note 
Shakespeare’s rhyme shorter departure The only difficulty is that to 
judge by unambiguous place-name material, the very same sound-changes 
occurred m Middlesex, Essex, and Surrey In Puck’s speech MND 
2 I 42-58 we find two rhymes that agree excellently with Warwick 
criteria, viz , hoh crab and coffe Ioffe, [lof] being still the Warwick pro- 
nunciation of laugh But the presence of similar rhymes in other con- 
temporary poets and in popular ballads — wt are reminded of Mother 
Hubbard’s laughing coffin — ogives one pause Shakespeare’s puns 
tongues-tongs, wrong- (w) rung and his rhymes shun you on you, 
young belong, tongue wrong, etc , which are quite frequent, would also 
tally with modern Warwickshire sounds, but again we cannot dismiss 
the possibility that the very same leveling of ME un/ 6 n, ung/ong may 
have occurred also in social or regional dialects within the London area 

Admittedly this list of possible dialect traits in Shakespeare’s writings 
IS quantitatively not very impressive, while the uncertainty of the evidence 
is also disappointing On the other hand, there is actually no reason why 
we should expect any provincialisms at all in his plays Bradley (p 573) 
had fully grasped the situation when he wrote “A playwright would 
naturally be careful to avoid any peculiarities of diction which his London 
audiences might find obscure or ludicrous, and anything of this kind 

5 Pp IV f To Onions’ Glossary should now be added thtef or theave, for which see 
p 150, below, It IS still in general use m southern England and the Midlands, in- 
cluding Wa (EDD) 



which he introduced inadvertently would probably be brought to his no- 
tice by the actors ” Undoubtedly Shakespeare used regional or class dia- 
lect at times, but such forms were permissible variants in the sense that 
they were familiar to everybody in London, like ] and [1 ] for ME f 
(see pp 197 ff , below) Moreover, these were current over a wide area, 
not confined to Warwickshire 

Previous Studies of Shakespeare’s Pronunciation 

Only for the last hundred years or so has there been a manifest interest 
in the phonology of Elizabethan English Previously very few people seem 
to have realized that the speech of Shakespeare and his contemporaries 
must have differed from their own Significantly enough the first crude 
phonological analyses of Chaucer’s and Shakespeare’s language appeared 
in 1847 and 1861, respectively, that is to say, in the very period which saw 
the rise of modern English philology Since then Shakespeare, probably 
more than his great predecessor, has been exposed to the inquisitiveness 
of philologists and pseudophilologists The discovery that Elizabethan 
English was pronounced differently from modern English and that its 
phonemes might be determined fairly precisely by means of a systematic 
study of the available phonological evidence very naturally prompted 
philologists to investigate Shakespeare’s pronunciation with a view to 
resuscitating, if possible, the original sound of his verse and prose But 
unfortunately this discovery also encouraged Shakespearean editors and 
commentators untrained in the methods of historical phonology to ex- 
plain strange rhymes, alleged puns, or other textual cruces by a per- 
functory reference to Elizabethan pronunciation, often regardless of 
whether the problem involved was phonological or not We can, I regret 
to say, witness the disturbing consequences of this injudicious use of the 
term Elizabethan pronunciation even m modern Shakespeare editions and 
recent critical studies 

When the layman begins to speculate on the reasons for the seeming 
vagaries of linguistic usage, he tends to mistake his legitimate curiosity 
about such matters for a knowledge of the subject and rarely hesitates to 
express himself on almost any philological question Even experienced 
literary historians and critics, who would tread wanly in their own fields 
of study, appear to lose all restraint when something linguistic catches 
their fancy For such, Shakespeare in particular has become the happy 
hunting ground An antiquarian will explore the speech of the Warwick- 
shire worthies of Shakespeare’s time, an historian will discourse on “local 
inflections” m fashionable Elizabethan English, a literary historian, 



apparently relying on Voltaire’s maxim that the consonants count for 
very little and the vowels for nothing at all, has established his own Shake- 
spearean phonology, while a poet hears not only an owl’s shriek in Lady 
Macbeth’s peace (222) — ^though then pronounced [p^s], almost like 
modern pace — ^but also "'the rocking up and down of dissonantal d’s,” what- 
ever that means, in M i 5 39-58 All this would be merely laughable were 
not its consequences so grave for the understanding of Shakespeare and 
other early writers Before tackling problems of a phonological nature, 
e g , homonymic puns, vowel assonances, rhymes, and textual emenda- 
tions, the amateur philologist would do well to ponder what Henry Cecil 
Wyld has to say on the interpretation of rhymes in Studies in English 
Rhymes from Surrey to Pope (p 5), for his words are equally applicable 
to the whole domain of early NE sounds “Without an accurate knowl- 
edge of the phonology and grammar of Middle English, and of the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, without a training in the methods of English 
philological inquiry, and some experience in the application of such meth- 
ods to the special problems of English pronunciation during the period 
from Chaucer to Pope, it is unfortunately impossible to form any but the 
haziest and most incorrect notions on the subject It is one thing to 
observe facts, it is quite another to interpret them properly ” And many 
of our amateurs cannot even observe facts correctly, because they do not 
distinguish letters from sounds 

Luckily everything previously written on the subject is not so grotesque 
as the sort of thing referred to above In the past several well-known 
philologists have made respectable attempts to determine Shakespeare’s 
pronunciation, though today their findings have only historical interest 
The first study of this kind seems to have been undertaken by Richard 
Grant White, who published his “Memorandums on English Pronuncia- 
tion in the Elizabethan Era” as an appendix to the 12th volume of his 
Shakespeare (1861) , his observations, which embody nothing of value 
for the modern student of Shakespeare, were treated with great respect 
by Ellis, who abstracted them in his On Early English Pronunciation 
(PP 966-73) White’s essay was followed by an article in the North 
American Review^ 1864 (pp 342-69), written jointly by John B Noyes 
and Charles S Peirce, whose views are based on an analysis of some 
early orthoepists, thus anticipating to a certain extent the subsequent 
work of Alexander Ellis The latter devoted pp 917--96 of On Early Eng- 
lish Pronunciation to a careful suivey of Shakespeare’s pronunciation, 
which for Its time is a noteworthy achievement He was the first to realize 
the significance of the homonymic puns as a source of information on 
early pronunciation, but he ignored completely the orthographic evidence 



While now obsolete in respect of method and results, Ellis’ study gave 
impetus to research in this field, and many of his ideas left their mark on 
the phonological investigations of his successors 

The rapid progress of philological inquiry during the last quarter of 
the 19th century and in particular the almost universal acceptance of the 
neogrammarian tenets had a far-reaching influence on the historical study 
of English sounds One of its results was the re-examination of Shake- 
speare^s pronunciation by the German phonetician Wilhelm Victor, then 
professor of English philology in the University of Marburg Ever since 
Its publication in 1906 Victor’s ambitious two-volume work entitled 
Shakespeare's Pronunciation (Vol i, A Shakespeare Phonology ,Yq\ 2, 
A Shakespeare Reader) has been regarded as the sole authority on the 
subject despite the fact that within a decade of its appearance its con- 
clusions had been largely invalidated by the investigations of other schol- 
ars, notably Zachrisson Subsequent phonological research undertaken 
by Wyld, Zachrisson, and others has made Victor’s views as obsolete as 
those once propounded by Ellis But their hold on the textual study of 
Shakespeare has not yet been effectively broken ® 

The time element, however, is not the sole factor responsible for the 
obsoleteness of Victor’s views Its causes lie deeper They are actually 
inherent in the investigation itself — ^in Victor’s questionable method of 
inquiry and the inadequacy of his phonological material Victor must have 
been aware of the former shortcoming, for he admits m his preface (p vii) 
that he had ‘ignored certain recent investigations which [might] 
seem to modify 01 even invalidate some of [his] own conclusions ” This 
unscholarly attitude is defended by the no less striking statement that 
he “wished to address [himself] to a wider circle of readers, some of whom 
would neither care for a detailed discussion of side-questions, nor, as a 
rule, have access to doctor’s dissertations and similar monographs,” and 
that his object was “not to treat of Modern English, nor even Elizabethan, 
phonology, but of the pronunciation adopted by Shakespeare in his pub- 
lished works ” One wonders what particular benefit the general reader 
would derive from a misrepresentation of the phonological situation, and 
one is bewildered by his working hypothesis as expressed in the italicized 
words above Instead of collecting and carefully weighing every scrap of 
evidence bearing on Shakespeare’s pronunciation, Vietor simply postulates 
that Shakespeare “adopted” a certain brand of pronunciation — ^probably 

6 The chapter on “Shakespeare's English" m Hardin Craig's The Complete Works 
of Shakespeare, pp 59 ff , is a typical example of the literary scholar’s disregard of 
the significant results arrived at by philologists in the last 45 years 


archaic and artificial — ^when composing his plays and poems, and that this 
adopted pronunciation is reflected in his rhymes 

Apart from the obvious fallacy of this hypothesis, the phonological data 
that Vietor collected were singularly insufficient and one-sided For one 
thmg, he based his investigation exclusively on the rhymes of Shake- 
speare’s poems, plus a few random rhymes from his plays, thus ignoring a 
large number of significant rhymes This omission has had serious reper- 
cussions, as, eg, when Vietor is quoted^ as saying that there are no 
rhymes in Shakespeare between the adverbial ending 4 y and he, me, and 
similar words having ME e , the fact is that there are at least a dozen safe 
instances of such rhymes, not, of course, in the poems but in the plays 
Secondly, Vietor entirely disregarded the extremely important evidence 
of the homonymic puns, of the Q and F spellings, and of the versification 
His attitude toward the few early grammarians he used was dogmatic and 
biased by the preconception that NE did not begin until the i6th century 
And finally, despite his statement that one of the principal results of 
previous research had been *'the recognition of the coexistence of various 
pronunciations also in Shakespeare’s time” (p 4) — z, curious wording 
which shows that Vietor misunderstood the role of the regional and class 
dialects in the evolution of modern Standard English — ^he keeps on for- 
getting this very fact when dealing with seemingly abnormal rhymes, 
which are often forced into the predetermined phonological system 

Of the same general character and quality as Victor’s investigation, 
though shorter, is the chapter headed ‘‘Aussprache” which Wilhelm Franz 
added to the 2d ed of his Shakespeare-GrammaUk (1909) and which is 
retained in the 4th and latest ed of 1939, published as Die Sprache Shake- 
speares in Vers und Prosa (pp 43-99) , the chapter in question is a revi- 
sion of an earlier article by Franz, apparently in the light of Victor’s 
theories ® Though Franz illustrates his phonological remarks by not a few 
occasional spellings, his conclusions are incompatible with the discoveries 
of the last four decades, while his reconstruction of Shakespeare’s speech 
(pp 90-3) IS actually even more archaic than Victor’s Like Henry Brad- 
ley, who in Shakespeare’s England {2, 539-74) summarized his own 
ideas of Shakespeare’s English, hranz has nothing of value to give the 
student of early NE phonology His painstaking analysis of Shakespeare’s 
grammar and syntax is, on the other hand, a work of a totally different 

Since the publication of Victor’s work, a few smaller studies of Shake- 

7 Brown, p 43 , cf Vietor, p 14 

8 Franz, p vi 



speare’s pronunciation have appeared,® including two gramophone rec- 
ords ^ Most of them rely on Victor The outstanding exception is R E 
Zachrisson's monograph The English Pronunciation at Shakespeare's 
Time as Taught by William Bullokar, published m 1927 Zachrisson’s 
analysis of Bullokar, a contemporary of Shakespeare's, touches only in- 
cidentally upon problems of Shakespearean pronunciation, but Bullokar's 
rules and transcriptions are themselves valuable for our knowledge of 
Elizabethan usage Several years earlier Zachrisson had published an 
article m Swedish, “Shakespeares uttal" (Shakespeare's Pronunciation), 
in which he surveyed briefly the approximate pronunciation of the ME 
vowels and diphthongs at the end of the i6th century In spite of its 
healthily unorthodox approach to the subject, it is not the kind of paper 
Zachrisson would have written had he based his conclusions on a search- 
ing analysis of Shakespeare's plays and poems instead of mainly on the 
testimony of contemporary orthoepists Yet he is perfectly right in stating 
that Shakespeare's pronunciation agrees with or approaches modern Eng- 
lish to a much greater extent than is commonly assumed 

9 Eg, Ayres, *‘The Question of Shakespeare’s Pronunciation,” pp 237-51 , it is a 
noncommittal summary, based mainly on Victor and full of generalities Blandford’s 
Shakespeare*s Pronunctahon, a Transcription of Twelfth Nighty Act /, Sc K, “made 
for the Festival Theatre Company, Cambridge,” m 1927, is, as the title indicates, a 
phonetic transcription, like the preceding article based on Vietor's findings, and there- 
fore unsatisfactory 

I The Linguaphone Institute has issued a set of four 12 inch gramophone records, 
entitled “English Pronunciation through the Centuries,” to which Daniel Jones has 
contributed one double-sided record spoken by himself and Eileen M Evans and 
giving four passages from Shakespeare “in a pronunciation that was probably current 
in the South of England m the early part of the seventeenth century” (quoted from 
the accompanying textbook, p 42) Jones is probably right in postulating the diph- 
thongs [ai] and [au] for ME i and respectively, but on such major issues as the 
pronunciation of ME a, d, a%, ME eu, gUy and aw, the lengthening and shortening of 
vowels, the treatment of the consonants and the unstressed vowels (in particular the 
occurrence of syncope), his reconstruction of Shakespeare’s speech is at variance with 
the evidence of the text and with the testimony of contemporary orthoepists This is 
true also of the double sided lO-inch record spoken by the late Harry Morgan Ayres 
of Columbia University for the set “Historical Poets,” published by the National 
Council of Teachers of English Ayres, whose sole qualification for the task was 
his above-mentioned derivati'\|5 article, spoke “with a trace of Irish accent believed 
to have been generally characteristic qf^ngl^sh speech in Shakespeare’s time ” 



quibble/’ said Dr Johnson in his famous Preface, 'hs to Shakespeare 
what luminous vapours are to the traveller he follows it at all adventures , 
it IS sure to lead him out of his way, and sure to engulf him m the mire 
It has some malignant power over his mind, and its fascinations are irre- 
sistible Whatever be the dignity or profundity of his disquisition, whether 
he be enlarging knowledge or exalting affection, whether he be amusing 
attention with incidents or enchanting it m suspense, let but a quibble 
spring up before him, and he leaves his work unfinished A quibble is the 
golden apple for which he will always turn aside from his career, or stoop 
from his elevation A quibble, poor and barren as it is, gave him such 
dehght, that he was content to purchase it by the sacrifice of reason, 
propriety, and truth A quibble was to him the fatal Cleopatra for which 
he lost the world, and was content to lose it ” 

Despite its obvious exaggerations, couched in the flamboyant imagery 
of Johnsonian rhetoric, this condemnation of the Shakespearean quibble 
reflects and confirms the radical change in taste and attitude that had 
occurred since Elizabethan times Incapable of a detached point of view 
and of re-creating for himself something of the intellectual, emotional, and 
moral milieu of the period, Johnson unhesitatingly applied an 18th- 
century gauge to 16th-century conditions Had anyone ventured to chal- 
lenge his verdict, he might have referred the skeptic to that arbiter of good 
taste, Addison, who m Nos 61-3 of the Spectator (May 10-12, 1711) 
had deprecated the use of puns as a kind of ‘"false Wit” unworthy of good 
writing Unlike Dr Johnson, Addison was able to view the problem in 
the light of past practices and experiences He sketched the history of 
punning “from its Original to its Downfal,” he defined the pun as “a 
Conceit arising from the use of two Words that agree in Sound, but differ 
in the Sense” (a not sufficiently comprehensive definition), and he argued 
judiciously, forcefully, and elegantly for the superiority of “true Wit,” 
that IS, the “Resemblance and Congruity of Ideas,” as opposed to “false 
Wit” or the “Resemblance and Congruity sometimes of single Letters, as 
in Anagrams, Chronograms, Lipograms, and Acrosticks Sometimes of 
Syllables, as in Ecchos and Doggerel Rhymes Sometimes of Words, as 




in Puns and Quibbles,” etc In his opinion it was ‘‘impossible to kill a 
Weed, which the Soil has a natural Disposition to produce” , he added 
that “the Seeds of Punning are in the Minds of all Men, and tho’ they may 
be subdued by Reason, Reflection, and good Sense, they will be very apt to 
shoot up in the greatest of Genius, that is not broken and cultivated by the 
Rules of Art ” 

Whatever were the reasons for the disrepute into which punning had 
fallen about 1700, to the Elizabethans it was not only a source of much 
merriment but also a greatly cherished intellectual exercise Apparently 
it was as much part of sophisticated conversation as it was a stock in- 
gredient of contemporary comedy , even pulpit oratory did not disdain it 
A critical voice is occasionally heard, but its strictures are leveled against 
the overuse of quibbling by writers and speakers rather than against the 
practice itself ^ Even Ben Jonson, who held certain forms of “Paranomasie 
or Agnomination” up to ridicule in Poetaster, showed no reluctance to use 
such verbal jests in his other comedies Indeed, punning as a stylistic 
artifice appears to have reached the zenith of its popularity during the 
Elizabethan period An ancient rhetorical device, approved of by Aristotle 
and Plato, it had been extensively used by Aristophanes, Menander, and 
Plautus In medieval handbooks on rhetoric, e g , Matthieu de Vendome’s 
Ars versificatona and Geofifroi de Vinsauf s Poetria nova, we find it repre- 
sented as traductio and annomtnaho, two figurae z^erborttm which Chaucer 
liked to experiment with at times, particularly in his earlier poems ^ Dur- 
ing the Middle English period the possibilities of punning had been vastly 
increased as a result of the wholesale importation of Romance loanwords 
into the language The excessive Latinization of the vocabulary during 
the Renaissance had the same effect The consequent wealth of synonyms, 
which from then on became a permanent characteristic of English, brought 
with It an unceasing differentiation in usage as well as in meaning and 
connotation, which was eminently favorable to punning and other forms 
of conscious or unconscious verbal ambiguity, including malapropisms 
No less IS this true of the revolutionary changes in pronunciation that 
English underwent at the beginning of the isth century and through which 
It acquired many new homonyms Some of these were, however, eliminated 
by later sound-changes which in turn gave rise to other sets of homonyms, 
previously unknown Yet this latter development did not materially affect 
the relative fiequency of English homonyms In this respect there is, I 

1 Wilson, pp 12 f , quotes Camden*s opinion of ‘^this merry playing with words,” 
which he felt was “too much used by some,” and John Hoskyns^ characterization of 
contemporary quibbling as “the dotage of the time upon this small ornament ” 

2 See my forthcoming article, “Annominatio and Traductio in Chaucer ” 



would say, no marked difference between Shakespeare’s language and 
modern English But the fact that Elizabethan homonyms were not al- 
ways the same as our own is highly significant phonologically as well as 

Addison’s reference to the natural disposition of the soil is indeed an apt 
characterization of the linguistic background of punning, even though 
his concern was mainly or exclusively psychological What he regarded as 
an ineradicable weed, however, was fondly cultivated in the flower beds 
and hothouses of Tudor rhetoric The genius of the English language en- 
couraged and fostered experimentation, whether imitation of hackneyed 
rhetorical devices or vigorous innovation The multiple meanings of words 
and the numerous homonyms fascinated the Elizabethan mind to a degree 
that we can hardly fully appreciate without steeping ourselves in the 
language of the period, its pronunciation no less than its vocabulary, its 
grammar and syntax no less than its rhetoric and prosody In their fum- 
bling ways Mrs Quickly with her malapropisms and Ancient Pistol with 
his fondness for scraps of old plays were as word conscious as were, for 
instance, Holofernes and Osric, so adroitly parodied by Hamlet They 
were Elizabethans just as much as the theatergoers of the day, the ground- 
lings and the wits, whom the bawdy double-entendres of 2H4 2 i and 
MWW 4 I must have thrown into paroxysms of laughter To understand 
this diverting blend of sophistication and coarseness and in some measure 
to re-create the spirit and atmosphere m which it originated and flour- 
ished, it IS not enough for us to have open minds, a keen sense of humor, 
and the ability to use the OED , we must know the phonology of Eliza- 
bethan English lest we mistakenly base our interpretations on the printed 
word instead of on its 16th-century pronunciation 

Shakespeare’s penchant for punning, therefore, reflects the spirit of the 
age Whether he was more skillful at it than his contemporaries or whether 
he used it more extensively than they are questions that can hardly be an- 
swered without a comparative study of the stylistic and dramatic function 
of punning in the Elizabethan drama No such general study has as yet been 
undertaken, nor can it be until we have comprehensive investigations into 
the punning practice of each dramatist Here it will be sufficient to say that 
Lyly’s use of the pun, though much less subtle, has many points m common 
with Shakespeare’s (see the individual puns below) Their agreement 
in this may imply borrowing or imitation on the part of Shakespeare, but 
It may equally well indicate a common source for both wi iters, namely, the 
zest for punning in the circles where Shakespeare and Lyly moved Of 
interest m this connection, moreover, is the fact that three of the examples 
of prosonomasta and atamclasis given by Puttenham in The Arte of Eng- 



hsh Poesie (pp 202-3, 207), viz, lover-lubber, excuse-accuse, and 
marrted-marred, reappear in Shakespeare (see below) 

Theie is no indication that Shakespeare ever tired of verbal jests, let 
alone that he disapproved of them It is true that in LLL he satirizes 
certain aspects of the excessive preoccupation with words for their own 
sake or as a mark of gentility and breeding,^ but probably not a single 
one of his plays is entirely free from puns of one kind or another As 
may be expected, the amount of punning varies considerably from play to 
play, though it is of course most conspicuous in the comedies and in the 
low-comedy scenes of the tragedies and histones Yet such verbal am- 
biguities were even introduced — ^and sometimes quite effectively — ^mto his 
most elevated and tragic speeches Thus in RJ 4 5 35-7 old Capulet voices 
his grief both in a metaphor and in wordplay that to us seem in bad taste 
but to Shakespeare’s contemporaries unquestionably represented a stylistic 
tour de force 

0 Sonne, the night before thy wedding day, 

Hath death lame with thy wife there she lies. 

Flower as she was, deflowred by him 

Similarly before Caesar’s mangled body Antony emphasizes his lament 
with a quibble (JC 3 i 204-10) 

Pardon me Julius, heere was’t thou bay’d brave Hart, 

Heere did^st thou fall, and heere thy Hunters stand 
Sign’d in thy Spoyle, and Crimson’d in thy Lethe 
O World * thou wast the Forrest to this Hart, 

And this indeed, 0 World, the Hart of thee 
How like a Deere, stroken by many Princes, 

Dost thou heere lye^ 

For other instances of the same nature see H 4 7 187 f , and Gaunt-gaunt, 
gild-guilt, mail-male, sole-soul, below 

The bawdy nature of many of Shakespeare’s puns is another character- 
istic rooted in the spirit of the times The Elizabethans were wont to call 
a spade a spade, and they evinced no squeamishness in matters of sex or 
bodily hygiene On the contrary, they relished a risque innuendo or a 
salacious jest — ^and so did Shakespeare If, as critics of the Victorian 
school would have us believe, his attitude in such matters had been one 
of reluctant or pained acquiescence in a stage tradition that pandered to 
the lowest taste of his audience, why, then, was it necessary for him to 
write Sonnet 151, which in its subtle fashion is as ‘"indelicate” — ^to use a 
Victorian expression — ^as, for instance, Mercutio’s ribald jests or Mrs 
3 See Willcock, pp S ff 


Quickly’s double talk^ After all, this was the age that saw the appearance 
of Thomas Nashe’s The Choise of ValenHnes, Sir John Harrington’s The 
Metamorphosis of Ajax, George Gascoigne’s A Hundreth Sundne 
Flowres, and the anonymous volume A Hundred Merry Tales, a collec- 
tion of coarse jokes printed in 1526 by John Rastell That depository of 
"'good wit” — ^to quote an ironic remark by Beatrice in MA 2 i 134 — was 
extremely popular in Shakespeare’s time, and we have it on reliable au- 
thority that It was a solace to Queen Elizabeth in her dying hours ^ There 
is no reason to believe that Shakespeare’s heroines did not conform to the 
exalted example set by the Virgin Queen The unmaidenly witticisms of 
Beatrice, Rosalind, Celia, and even Portia no doubt reflect the general 
tone of conversation among Elizabethan women of fashion It is well to 
remember this when dealing with obscure passages in the speeches of 
Shakespeare’s lovely heroines To be sure, these passages need not conceal 
obscenities, but we must be on our guard against the preconception that 
they never do 

Although I am concerned exclusively with the pun as an aid in estab- 
lishing Shakespeare’s pronunciation and consequently can touch only in 
passing on the art of punning itself, its principles and methods, I feel, 
however, that something should be said here about Shakespeare’s punning 
technique and more particularly about his homonymic puns Granted that 
it is probably in no way distinguishable from the punning technique of 
his contemporaries, a close examination of a couple of punning passages 
will nevertheless, I trust, reveal a few salient facts about his stylistic method 
of achieving the intended double-entendre and his skill in incorporating 
the pun without unduly forcing the language It is immaterial for this 
discussion whether the puns were Shakespeare’s own invention or had 
been suggested to him by his fellow actors in order to heighten the comic 
effect of a scene and, what was probably as important, to provide them 
with some really good gags 

There are two mam kinds of puns in Shakespeare, which we may con- 
veniently term (i) semantic puns exid (2) homonymic puns The semantic 
pun, which is without any phonological value, consists in a play on two or 
more meanings of the same word, whereas the homonymic pun consists in 
a play on two different words which are usually etymologically unrelated 
but have, as a result of linguistic change, come to be identical in pronuncia- 
tion At times this identity of sound is reflected m the spelling of the words, 
but more often there is an orthographic distinction between them which 
may be entirely arbitrary as in son-sun or etymologically but not phoneti- 
cally justified as in right-writ e As a subdivision of the homonymic puns, 

4 MA (VarEd ), p 72 



or as a third, independent group, we may regard what I would term the 
pngUy a wordplay in which neither meaning nor identity of sound but 
rather the effective balancing of like-soundmg words is of primary con- 
cern , since there is only partial correspondence in pronunciation between 
the two words involved, they always appear in juxtaposition in the same 
sentence or period, e g , who dotes yet doubts (O 3 3 170) Of a decided 
stylistic effect, this third group of puns has seldom any phonological value, 
whereas the homonymic pun proper is of considerable importance in this 

In point of punning technique both the semantic pun and the homonymic 
pun may be regarded as one and the same The two words constituting a 
homonymic pair are actually a phonetic entity, though they often bear 
very divergent meanings Hence there can be no other difference between 
a pun, say, on right (correct) and right (opposite of left) and one on right 
and write than that demanded by the context and the functional similarity 
or dissimilarity of right-right and nght-write In both cases the context 
must be more or less adjusted to fit the two meanings m question That is 
precisely the technique followed by Shakespeare, of course with many 
variations depending on the specific situation At his best he is thus able 
to produce a passage of speech with two completely interchangeable sets 
of meanings, the apprehension of which depends on an almost instan- 
taneous shift in point of view on the part of the listener The effect is very 
much like the optical illusion created by certain geometrical designs which 
the mind of the viewer can at will arrange in two different patterns One 
meaning is closely related to the context of what immediately precedes the 
punning passage, the other is brought out by what immediately follows it, 
by the use of some specific word or idiom in the passage itself, or more 
seldom purely by the associations evoked by the sound of the word itself 
Subsidiary puns, semantic or homonymic, are often introduced to em- 
phasize the primary pun or to exploit its ambiguities to the fullest extent 
A perfect example of this technique is Touchstone’s philosophizing on the 
passing of time as reported by Jaques in AYL 2 7 26^ 

And so from houre to houre, we ripe, and npe, 

And then from houre to houre, we rot, and rot. 

And thereby hangs a tale 

Superficially this looks like a philosophical commonplace, and as such it 
has been interpreted for the past three hundred years or so though without 
any satisfactory solution to the enigma ® why it could make Jaques “laugh, 

5 Campbeirs labored attempt (pp 56 f ) to interpret this speech demonstrates the 
hazards of literary criticism based on an incomplete understanding of the text 


sans intermission,/ An houre by his diall ” Yet these innocent-looking and 
today innocent-sounding lines embody a senes of obscene ambiguities, the 
core of which are the homonyms hour-whore, both making equally good 
sense with what follows Then come two subsidiary puns, also homonymic, 
VIZ , npe 'search,' and tale-tail The word hour, pronounced 

exactly like whore, appears twice m the two immediately preceding lines, 
thereby heralding the pun itself The cumulative eifect of these six in- 
stances of [(h)o j] or [(h)o j] — ^with a kind of dying echo in 1 33 — 
must have been such as to preclude the possibility that anyone in the 
audience might miss the double-entendre But this is not all It is reasona- 
ble to assume that 11 20-2 of the same speech constitute a kind of prelude, 
which by means of its semantic quibble and the associations this may have 
evoked sets the tone and foreshadows what is to come 

And then he drew a diall from his poke. 

And looking on it, with lacke-lustre eye, 

Sayes, very wisely, it is ten a clocke 

When we recall that dials were "the signes of Leapmg-houses" (1H4 
129) and how the Nurse appears to be shocked by Mercutio's obscene 
jest in RJ 2 4 118-19 (‘‘the bawdy hand of the Dyall is now upon the 
pricke of Noone"), it seems obvious that dial, or more precisely its 'hand,' 
was a phallic symbol, and that those who heard the above lines, perhaps 
accompanied with appropriate but improper gestures, immediately asso- 
ciated poke with codpiece, the butt of many a joke in Shakespeare The 
implication is that the whole speech by Jaques is nothing but a cleverly 
sustained piece of double-entendre, so skillfully constructed and handled 
that It has deceived readers and listeners piobably for almost three cen- 

Almost as flawless technically and equally obscene is the pun stealer- 
staler in Cy 2 3 72-5 (see below) It, too, has duped every modern reader, 
the reason being, as in the case of hour-whore, that the two words aie no 
longer homonyms , moreovei , staler was either a nonce formation or a 
16th-century slang term We notice the same clever touch in Falstaff's 
quibbling comment on the Prince's offer of a "charge of foot" (1H4 
3 3 208 ff ) Here three pairs of homonyms, horse-whores, steal-stale, and 
thief-theave, have been utilized with much success Superficially, how- 
ever, the passage is somewhat obscure and strained, especially the line 
"Where shal I finde one that can steale well One ought to refer to horse 
in the preceding line, but since a horse does not steal as a rule, one is 
usually taken to mean 'a person ' This minor difficulty is, of course, ob- 
viated when we apply the lower-level meaning Then we are able to sym- 



pathize wholeheartedly with Falstaff in his pitiable loneliness , ^‘heinously 
unprovided” as he was, he could not help yearning for the companionship 
of a ''young thief,” i e , a young woman, ‘"of two-and-twenty, or there- 
about ” 

In some instances the quibbling has been carried to such extremes that 
even the initiated reader will have to make a real effort to find his way 
through the maze of meanings and homonyms This is true above all of 
Dromio's forced witticisms in CE 3 2, where we have m 11 80-90 the 
homonyms clmm-cleam, have-heave y horse-whores, abased-a beast-haste- 
beastly, and the semantic pun on besides It is likewise true of Romeo’s and 
Mercutio’s extravagant jesting in RJ 2 4 20-106, parts of which still defy 
precise interpretation In the opinion of modern readers Shakespeare’s 
punning is hardly at its best here, but to his own audiences the sputtering 
verbal fireworks of such scenes unquestionably meant a real treat How 
they must have relished Mrs Quickie’s quibbling malapropism fartuous 
for "virtuous’ (MWW 2 2 loi), the equivocal broken English of Evans 
and Cams, and the mock Latin examination in MWW 4 i with its ac- 
cumulation of obscenities On the other hand, the French-English word- 
play of H5 3 4 can have had only a relatively limited appeal, while the 
etymological quibbling on goat andi capricious in AYL 3 3 7-8 was clearly 
intended as a nosegay for the fastidious wits 

These random examples must suffice to illustrate Shakespeare’s pun- 
ning technique, a comprehensive analysis of all his puns and similar 
stylistic tricks would require a volume of several hundred pages Ovei 
fifty years ago a German scholar, Leopold Wurth, undertook a large-scale 
investigation of this kind, which was published in 1895 as Das Wortspiel 
bei Shakespeare In many respects this is a creditable piece of work, thor- 
ough and well arranged All the Shakespearean puns then known and 
accepted as genuine by Wurth have been analyzed and carefully classified 
One chapter is devoted to the homonymic pun and the jmgle, oi ""Laut- 
und Klangspiele” as Wurth terms them It is based mainly on the brief 
list of such puns collected by Ellis for his account of Shakespeare’s pro- 
nunciation in On Early English Pronunciation, but Wurth is sometimes 
able to supplement Ellis Like his English predecessor he shows a lauda- 
ble restraint m admitting homonymic puns Thus he does not even men- 
tion the alleged pun body-beauty (1H4 1228), which White (1861) 
fathered but which Ellis was not quite willing to accept as legitimate , in 
the New Variorum Edition of 1H4 it has, unfortunately, been given a new 
lease of life as a relevant case of Elizabethan pronunciation, though 
phonologically it is impossible for body and beauty to be homonyms, while 
♦ even a jingle on the two words seems questionable (see p 70, below) So 


far Wurth s study of the Shakespearean pun is the fullest treatment of the 
subject in existence, though it cannot now, by any means, be called up 
to date or even nearly complete Much has happened in Shakespearean 
scholarship since 1895, ^^e completion of the OED has greatly facili- 

tated word studies of this kind by students today A rich and rewarding 
field of research consequently awaits the competent philologist who will 
not permit his imagination to lead him on a wild-goose chase for ambigui- 
ties of no relevance in Shakespeare’s time but who would nevertheless be 
capable of producing something more inspiring and substantial than a 
mere catalogue of puns, no matter how ingeniously classified A miniature 
investigation of this kind was undertaken in 1941 by Arthur King in 
''Some Notes on Ambiguity in Henry IV, Part I ” 

Another, more recent study on Shakespearean ambiguity is Shake- 
speare’s Bawdy by Eric Partridge Despite its sensational title this glos- 
sary of obscene allusions in Shakespeare’s plays and poems has little new 
to offer, it is a casual piece of work, obviously carried out in great 
haste and very incomplete ® Nevertheless it has some value, mainly be- 
cause of the detailed picture it provides of Elizabethan broadminded- 
ness This IS, indeed, its redeeming feature 

A cursory treatment of the Shakespearean pun in terms of Tudor 
ihetoric will be found in Sister Miriam Joseph’s Shakespeare's Use of the 
Arts of Language, pp 164-73 > the material adduced there is very small 
and contains no new instances of either semantic or homonymic puns 
Wilson’s Shakespeare and the Diction of Common Life and Mahood’s 
"The Fatal Cleopatra Shakespeare and the Pun” are brief, interesting 
papers dealing with Shakespeare’s wordplays in terms of literary criticism 

Shakespeare’s homonymic puns as a group have actually received very 
little attention from scholars Richard Grant White seems to have been 
the first to make some use of these puns as a means of fixing Shakespeare’s 
pronunciation, but his study, which Ellis thought very highly of, is 
completely worthless phonologically Ellis himself is the first and so far 
the only philologist ^ to realize the phonological significance of the homo- 

6 The laudatory review in JEGP, 47 (1949), 424 f, is entirely undeserved Not 
only has Partridge missed almost all the bawdy puns listed below but he has over- 
looked a host of obvious semantic puns of the same nature, e g , cut, ntck, score, pebble, 
polecat, stable (see pp 131, 133, below) And his etymological notes are often naive 
and sometimes ludicrous , had he consulted OED he would not have derived lye in 
chamber-lye from Fr Veatt (p 85) , lye < OE leag is a native Germanic word 

7 Hornes brief note, *‘Zu Shakespeares Wortspielen,” deals only with familiar 
puns, and his statement, ‘'Wenn man die Wortspiele Shakespeares richtig wurdigen 
will, muss man sich die Aussprache seiner Zeit vergegenwartigen,*’ shows no clear 
understanding of their phonological significance 



nymicpun m ^'determining identity of sound,” as he expresses it (p 918) , 
yet the phonological comments accompanying his small list of homonymic 
puns are scarcely more illuminating or relevant than White’s, despite his 
superior hnguistic training Wurth, who has a few more puns than Ellis, 
does not even attempt a phonological discussion perhaps just as well Be- 
tween them, Ellis and Wurth list less than one-third of the homonymic 
puns identified in this book Though I hope to have tracked down most of 
Shakespeare’s homonymic puns and though I can claim to have discovered 
over a hundred, my collection is probably not complete Such puns are 
very elusive and are easily overlooked Moreover, many obscure passages 
in Shakespeare’s comic scenes still stubbornly refuse to yield up their 
secrets, e g , the cryptic M 0 AI in the faked letter, TN 2 5 1 18 ff They 
may possibly contain homonymic puns or, more likely, topical allusions 
of one kind or another, with or without quibbling, but at present they defy 
reasonable explanation 

About half of Shakespeare’s homonymic puns are readily recognizable 
today because the words themselves still remain homonyms As a rule these 
puns are pointed out in the best modern one-play editions Of the rest, 
however, only a relatively small number have so far been recovered The 
reason is that this aspect of Shakespearean textual criticism has been 
almost completely neglected by the few experts on early New English pro- 
nunciation who alone were, and are, qualified to deal with it Since mod- 
ern Standard English is not m every respect a direct descendant of the 
fashionable pronunciation of three hundred and fifty years ago, a great 
many Elizabethan homonyms have meanwhile ceased to be pronounced 
alike To recover these older homonyms is often both a lengthy and an 
arduous undertaking It involves, first of all, consistently applying to pun- 
ning passages the relevant criteria of Elizabethan pronunciation as estab- 
lished by orthoepistic, orthographic, metrical, and rhyme evidence, in 
other words, it involves, e g , the leveling of ME a, m, and f (as in saUy 
satl, seal) and of ME I and o^ (as in hne, loin), and further the presence 
and absence of shortening, the loss and addition of consonants, the col- 
loquial syncopation of medial vowels, and the wide range of variant forms 
(phonetic doublets), not to mention the effect of little-known and some- 
times inadequately defined sound-changes Nor should we overlook the 
strong influence of the spelling on the pronunciation of individual words, 
as in Goth with final [ 9 ] today instead of original [t], and of sound- 
as in the suffix which was formerly pronounced [in] or [n] 

It is, of course, particularly valuable when an early form or the opera- 
tion of a sound-change can be definitely established independently by 
means of more than one type of evidence Take, for instance, the case of 


the pun on cardinal and carnal in H8 3 1 102-4 Its discovery was due to 
the combined orthographic and metrical evidence of the spellings card'nall 
(2x) and cardnall (3x), plus twenty-two other unambiguous cases of a 
disyllabic pronunciation of cardinal through syncopation of the medial 
(for detailed statistics see Appendix i) The expected loss of d in this 
syncopated, disyllabic form cardnal was confirmed by Henslowe’s per- 
sistent spelling of cardinal without the medial syllable -di- (see p 299, 
below) and by the malapropism or hypercorrect pronunciation cardinally 
for carnally in MM 2 i 81 as used by Elbow The orthographic and 
metrical evidence alone would have been sufficient to establish the disyl- 
labic character of cardinal, while the loss of d in the cluster rdn would 
have been a natural phonetic phenomenon, but the Henslowe spelling and 
the MM malapropism prove beyond any doubt that this d was no longer 
used in colloquial pronunciation, that consequently cardinal and carnal 
were homonyms 

Multiple testimony of this kind is, however, quite rare Fortunately it is 
seldom necessary to possess it in order to prove the existence of an Eliza- 
bethan homonym long since defunct As a rule it is enough to be able to 
show convincingly that the suggested homonym is merely another in- 
stance of a well-attested sound-change, which resulted in the leveling of 
two originally distinct sounds Direct contemporary evidence to the same 
effect IS, of course, particularly welcome Indeed, we have it not infre- 
quently in the lists of words pronounced alike that began to appear in the 
first half of the 17th century The earliest of these is to be found in Charles 
Butler's English Grammar of 1634, even more important is Richard 
Hodges' A Special Help to Orthographic of 1643 Such lists of “like and 
unlike" have proved particularly helpful in determining the phonology 
of many individual words that for specific reasons have not followed the 
expected course of development For words of that kind the OED is often 
invaluable , its individual word histones may reveal early doublets which 
will provide the clue to the textual crux — the pun on thief and theave 
is a case in point There is consequently nothing mysterious or con- 
jectural about the philologist's method of work, as the average reader is 
unfortunately apt to assume , intuition may occasionally put him on the 
right track, but it is the painstaking gathering of relevant material and 
the judicious weighing of the linguistic evidence that alone count m the 
final analysis 

Shakespeare himself did precious little to help 20th-century readers to 
understand and appreciate his uncommon skill in punning It probably 
never entered his mind that his plays might some day become classics At 
any rate he was singularly indifferent to indicating his intended wordplay 



in the actual text wherever it might have been feasible without recourse to 
marginal notes or other explanatory devices He wrote for his own genera- 
tion of theatergoers, and they were always on the alert for verbal jests 
of any kind , and he certainly did not have to coax an actor into making the 
most of his allotted jokes — on the contrary he had probably very good rea- 
sons for his warning, 'let those that play your clowns speak no more than 
IS set down for them ” It is futile, I think, to speculate on the extent to 
which a pun was accompanied by gestures or winking, by deliberate paus- 
ing before or after the crucial word or phrase, by changes in tempo, pitch, 
and volume, or even by laughter ("for there be of them that will them- 
selves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too”) 
That the desired reaction of the audience was frequently solicited by some 
such means seems certain But no such directions have been provided for 
the modern reader 

Most of Shakespeare’s puns occur totally unheralded and are some- 
times cleverly concealed in commonplace statements When a set of Eliza- 
bethan homonyms happens to survive today or when the connotations of 
a word have remained moi e or less the same down to the present time, we 
have usually no difficulty in recognizing the pun, and only its possible 
indelicacy may prompt an editor to ignore it in his textual notes In all 
other cases the sole method likely to lead to the discovery of new homo- 
nymic puns is, as I have pointed out above, the judicious application of 
what may be called the test of phonology to a passage or word under 
suspicion The fact that, for instance, ME % in hne and ME ot in lotn had 
coalesced under [01] in Shakespeare’s time makes every word originally 
containing either sound theoretically a member of a homonymic pair , in 
reality, of course, the number of such homonyms is limited A word like 
fine ought therefore to have a homonym join — ^and so it does , in fact, QED 
records no less than three such words, two nouns and one verb Now if 
we substitute join 'fur’ for fine m CE 2 2 73 ff , an otherwise rather point- 
less passage, we immediately obtain a neat double-entendre that adds con- 
siderably to the effectiveness of these punning lines (see below) This 
was precisely the simple proceduie followed m recovering a pun belong- 
ing to the earliest productions And so far as I can see, it is the only work- 
able and reliable method m a study of this kind Once homonymity has 
been proved, the next important step will therefore be to ascertain its 
plausibility in a given context Thus if we find that one of two homony- 
mous words occurs in a Shakespearean passage whose coherence and 
effectiveness would be improved by a play on the other word, then strong 
probability favors the assumption that such punning was originally in- 
tended In accordance with this principle no homonymic pun has been 


admitted heie which has not stood the combined test of phonology and 

Since complete identity of pronunciation with another word of different 
etymology and meaning is the sine qua non of the homonym, it must 
be the basis of the genuine homonymic pun as well Indeed, the vast ma- 
jority of such puns listed below depend on it for their existence, the jingles 
excepted, of course Strictly speaking no homonymic pun would be possi- 
ble without this identity of sound Yet in reality close similarity of pio- 
nunciation is sometimes enough to produce a pun of this type in a wider 
sense of the term A homonymic pun never appears tn vacuo It is always 
more or less dependent on the context, and when the context itself (for 
instance, the use of an idiomatic expression or the like) directs the lis- 
tener's attention to the significant word, a slight difference m the less 
sonorous elements of the two words (weakly articulated consonants, un- 
stressed vowels) will not destroy the pun, at times there may even be a 
deliberate minor distortion of the most sonorous element of the word (the 
stressed vowel or diphthong) in order to achieve the desired effect Take, 
for instance, the pun on horse and whores in 1H4 3 3 208 ff (see p 1 15) , 
below) If we assume that the two words had the same vowel [d ], the 
difference between final [s] and [z] is of no significance , very likely the 
actor may have used [z] to ensure that no one missed the pun On the 
other hand, should the vowels not yet have coalesced, then the pun must 
have been produced by deliberately pronouncing ho^se [ho js] or [ho iz ] , 
01 with the intermediate vowel [q ] — ^the similarity of the words and the 
immediately preceding phrase a charge of foot would have supplied the clue 
to the pun The extent of such phonetic manipulation is difficult to deter- 
mine, but I have the impression that on the whole it is very rare The 
suggested pun English-^ngle-tsh would be an excellent illustration of this 
trick, and so are perhaps Ford-food, noting-no thing, seal-seal, and the 
few cases of quibbles like mean-men, in which the vowel quality is the same 
but the quantity different Cases of this kind will be more fully discussed 
m the chapters of Part III Absolute identity of sound appears to be essen- 
tial, however, m cases of double-entendre Thus the bawdy pun stealer- 
staler hinges on the common pronunciation of ME f and a as [^ ], which 
is well evidenced m Shakespeare by rhymes, spellings, and other puns 
The fact that stealer itself is used here with the forced connotation ‘hunter' 
and that staler is either a nonce formation or vulgar slang precludes the 
possibility of pronouncing the two words with different vowels ® and of 
achieving the punning effect solely by distorting the vowel in conjunction 
with suggestive gestures 

8 For a discussion of this intricate problem see pp 198 ff , below 



Though phonetic doublets were quite common in Shakespeare’s time, 
the number available for punning was extremely small I can in fact point 
to only one instance in Shakespeare, sheeps which is linked both with ship 
and shape Rome looks like another instance, if we do not admit that roam 
could be pronounced [ru m] (see p 231, below) For this reason I hesi- 
tate to admit a pun steal-steel in VA 374-6 as suggested by Feuillerat , ^ 
steal is regularly coupled with stale in Shakespeare, and even though a 
variant [sti 1] was often doubtless used colloquially, there is no indication 
that Shakespeare ever pronounced steal in that way, nor does the context 
really favor the pun On the other hand, dialectal and vulgar pronuncia- 
tions are occasionally pressed into quibbling service, and so are mispronun- 
ciations by foreigners like Sir Hugh Evans and Dr Cams Bilingual puns 
occur in MWW (Latm-English) andinHs (French-English) 

It should now be clear that the homonymic pun can be of great service 
in fixing the pronunciation not only of individual words but of whole 
phonological groups Numerically these puns cannot compete with other 
types of evidence, but they make up for their paucity by the dependability 
of their testimony Rhymes may be traditional, that is, phonologically 
archaic, or even inexact without detriment to the meaning of a line 01 
stanza, but it is natural that in order to be understood and relished a 
homonymic pun must utilize nothing but up-to-date linguistic material 
Like the good phonetic or naive spelling it reveals the current pronuncia- 
tion of the day, and its evidence, rightly interpreted, is consequently far 
more significant than would seem to follow from the almost complete 
disregard of the homonymic pun hitherto by students of English phonol- 
ogy Hence I cannot share Wilhelm Franz’ skeptical attitude toward the 
value of the homonymic pun as expressed in Die Sprache Shakespeares 
(p 43) “Die vielen, bei Sh vorkommenden Wortspiele haben fur die 
Sprachgeschichte keinen direkten praktischen Wert ” ^ On the contrary 
they have the greatest value for the elucidation of many obscure points m 
the history of modern English pronunciation , this will, I trust, be borne 
out by the appended list of homonymic puns and the subsequent phono- 
logical discussion The fact that, incidentally, the new puns discovered m 
the course of this investigation will help to clarify a good many otherwise 
obscure or pointless passages should be of some interest to Shakespearean 
scholarship in general 

If Franz had qualified '"Wortspiele” with some word meaning "se- 
mantic, his statement would have been fully justified, but in its present 
form it is not true even of the jingles Taken as a group the jingles may 

9 See VarEd , p 44, 

I A similar skeptical attitude is fittingly assumed by Ayres, p 242 


be said to have little phonological value There are nevertheless individual 
quibbles of this kind which through the balancing of two almost identical 
words betray a similarity of sound that is not without historical signifi- 
cance Thus feast-fast TmA 2 2 180, marrytng-marnng MWW i i 25 flf , 
mutter-matter TmA 3 4 60 ff , and pnnce-prentice 2H4 2 2 193 f actu- 
ally come very close to being true homonymic puns They have something 
to tell us of the quality of the vowels involved It is almost exclusively 
by such Jingles that John Hoskyns, Directions for Speech and Style 
(c 1599), illustrates the rhetorical figure '"paranomasia,” which he says 
Dr Tobie Matthew, later archbishop of York, was very fond of, as exam- 
ples of that gentleman’s bons mots he quotes, “Our Paradice is a paire of 
dice, o[u]r almes deeds are turned into all-misdeeds, o[u]r fasting 
into feasting,” etc It would consequently seem as if Dr Matthew, a 
Herefordshire man like John Hoskyns himself, used [se] in paradise and 
pronounced almes approximately like [ohms] or [almis] otherwise 
the deliberate balancing of the expressions would have served little pur- 
pose ^ 

As a rule it is not difficult to distinguish between jingles and genuine 
homonymic puns Of course, borderline cases do occur, and they may be 
assigned to one or the other category depending on our opinion of the 
degree of phonetic similarity between the words in question , at times the 
grouping of such borderline cases has been merely a matter of expediency 

In the following pages, therefore, all the nonsemantic puns I have been 
able to identify in Shakespeare have been classified as (i) pngles, or 
(2) homonymic puns^ according to the definitions given on p 57, above 
They have been listed alphabetically with at least one quotation to illustrate 
the use of each pun, frequently analogues from contemporary authors 
have been added In the quotations the punning words themselves have 
been italicized and occasionally also other words (often synonyms) that 
accentuate the pun under consideration Whenever necessary I have pro- 
vided brief explanations of the nature and occurrence of a pun, sometimes 
with parallels from other dramatists or from 17th-century lists of homo- 
nyms , but all phonological problems have, with few exceptions, been rele- 
gated to Part III of the book The layman who is interested in the history 
of a specific set of homonyms will find the Word Index at the end of the 
volume a rehable guide to the relevant phonological chapter 

2 Disyllabic forms of alms (< OE celmysse) are recorded as late as the 17th 
century in OED , note also the mainly northern almous (OED, EDD) 

3 The New York Times, Sunday, Feb s, 1950, reported that Rabbi Segal m his 
sermon the previous day had pleaded for an alms race instead of arms race, appar- 
ently modern pulpit oratory is not averse to a telling pun 


The Jingles that occur in Shakespeare's plays are not all of exactly the 
same type In f^ct, anyone with a bent for classification would find it com- 
paratively easy to divide them into several categories/ but for phonologi- 
cal purposes it is hardly necessary to distinguish between more than two 
fairly well-defined groups or types The first group would then comprise 
those Jingles that differ in only one sound, eg, addle-tdle, doubt-dot 
as well as those in which there is more of an alliterative effect than actual 
similarity of sound, e g , mad-mated The second group shares with the 
former the balancing of like-sounding words, but its principal characteris- 
tic IS the complete identity of sound between one of the two words in 
question and the first, rarely the second, part of the other word, e g , 
brute-Brutus , jingles of this type might justifiably have been classed with 
the genuine homonymic puns, since especially in a few cases the first word 
IS altogether omitted, with the first part of the second word alone sup- 
plying the double-entendre Since classification is not the issue here, jingle- 
like puns of the second group will be listed alphabetically with jingles of 
the former type 

Abject-Ob]ect, H8 i i 126-7 

BUCKINGHAM and his eye revil'd 

Me as his abject object, at this instant 

Addle egg-Idle head, TC i 2 146-7 

CRESSiDA If you love an addle egge as well as you love an idle head, 
you would eate chickens I'th' shell ® 

Adieu-Jew-Judas, LLL 5 2 629-31 

BOYET Therefore as he is, an Asse, let him go 
And so adieu sweet Jude Nay, why dost thou stay^ 

DUMAiNE For the latter end of his name 

BEROWNE For the Asse to the Jude give it him Jud-as away 

4 For an attempt at such classification of Shakespeare's puns see Wurth, pp 26 ff 

5 Cf Lyly, Gallathea 3 4 20-1 “that there can be any time so idle, that should 
make their heads so addle,” and Mtdas 2 2 18-19 “Yes, but I beleve thy idle imagi- 
nation will make it an addle egge ” 




Ad dunghill-Ad unguem, LLL 5 i 81-3 

COSTARD thou hast it ad dungil, at the fingers ends, as they say 
HOLOFERNES Oh I smell false Latin, dunghel for unguem 

This IS either a malapropism or a deliberate distortion of ad unguem^ 
perhaps originally by schoolboys nurtured on Lyly’s Grammar ^ where the 
phrase occurs (VarEd , p 221) 

A foot-Afoot, 1H4 2 4 387-8 

FALSTAFF but a foot hcc Will not budge a foot 

Allusion-Colluston'-Polluhon, LLL 4 2 42-8 

HOLOFERNES TKallustofi holds m the Exchange 
DULL ’Tis true indeede, the Collusion holds in the Exchange 
HOLOFERNES God comfort thy capacity, I say th!allusion holds m 
the Exchange 

DULL And I say the polusion holds in the Exchange 
An obvious instance of malapropism 

Amen-All men, H8 3 2 45 

SUFFOLK My Amen too’t 
NORFOLK All mens 

Bamshed-Vamshed, TGV 3 i 216-17 

I AUNCE Sir, there is a proclamation, that you are vanished 
PROTEUS That thou art bamsh*d 

A case of malapropism 

Bare Itveries-Live hare, TGV 2 4 44-6 

VALENTINE For it appeares by their hare Liveries 
That they live by your hare words 

Baring— Beard, AW 4 i 54 
PAROLLES Or the haring of my heard 
The two words probably had [e ] , see p 207, below 

Basimecu-Bus mine cue, 2H6 4 7 30-2 

CADE for giving up of Normandie unto Mounsieur Basimecu, 
the Dolphine of France 



This IS the F version, which is nearly identical with that of The Conten- 

For delivering up the townes in France to Mounsieur bus mine cue, 
the Dolphin of France 

Basimecu is an English rendering of Batsemoncue, which the earlier ver- 
sion cleverly translates by the almost like-sounding bus mine cue ® 

Bear-Bar, MV 2 2 207-9 

BASSANio Well, we shall see your hearing 
GRATiANo Nay but I barre to night, you shall not gage me 
By what we doe to night 

Benedictus-Benedick, MA 3 4 73-5 

MARGARET Get you some of this distiird carduus benedictus and 
lay it to your heart, it is the onely thing for a qualm 

Body-Beauty, 1H4 i 2 26-8 

PALSTAFF when thou art King let not us that are Squires of 
the Nights hodie, bee call’d Theeves of the Dayes beauhe 

The words body and beauty were never homonyms,'^ though they are so 
characterized m most editions of the play, including the recent VarEd 
On the other hand, the possibility of a pun beauty-booty should perhaps 
not be entirely dismissed 

Bras-Brass, H5 4417-21 

FRENCH Est il impossible d’eschapper le force de ton bras 
PISTOL Brasse, Curre^ thou damned and luxurious Mountaine Goat, 
offer’st me Brasse ^ 

Brutus-Brute, H 3 2 107-11 

POLONius I did enact Julius Caesar, I was kill’d I’th’ Capitol Bi utus 
kiird me 

HAMLET It was a hruite part of him to kill so Capitall a Calfe there 

6 For this term see Bradley, p 572, and MLR, 61 (1911), 96, and 60 (1910), 500 f 

7 If beauty had had a doublet bawty, this jingle would not have been far removed 
from a homonymic pun The only trace of such a doublet we seem to have is bawty or 
bawhe, a Scottish name for a large dog, which the OED erroneously connects with 
Fr baud ‘white hound’ , in my opinion this bawty is an adaptation of Fr beaufe, after 
the original triphthong had been reduced to the diphthong au, see my discussion of 
this phonological problem in “Five Shakespeare Notes,” p 318 But we have no 
evidence at all that bawty was ever a regular pronunciation of beauty 



Busstng-Bustness, C 3 2 75-6 

VOLUMNIA Thy knee bussing the stones for m such businesse, 
Action IS eloquence 

Such a Jingle would presuppose an alternative pronunciation of business 
with [a], which is not unlikely 

Care-Cure, LLL 5 2 28 

ROSALINE Great reason for past care, is still past cure 

This proverbial phrase (the F order of care and cure is an obvious mis- 
print) occurs also in S 147 9 

Caught-Cautelous, C 4 i 31-3 

CORIOLANUS your Sonne 

Will or exceed the Common, or be caught 
With cautelous baits and practice 

Cloten-Clotpoll, Cy 42 184 

GUiDERius I have sent Clofens Clot ^ pole downe the streame 
The spelling Clotten Cy 34136 may indicate a pronunciation ['klotn] 

Commonr-Come on, LLL i i 57-9 

BEROWNE Things hid & bard (youmeane) fro[m] comlm\on sonst 

FERDINAND I, that IS studies god-like recompence 

BEROWNE Come on [com* on Q] then, I will sweare to studie so 

Concealed-Canceled, RJ 3 3 97-8 

ROMEO and what sayes 

My conceal'd Lady to our conceal'd [canceld Qq] Love^ 

Confine-Fmer, TN i 3 8-12 

MARIA I, but you must confine your selfe within the modest limits 
of order 

TOBY Confine ^ He confine my selfe no finer then I am these cloathes 
are good enough to drinke m, and so bee these boots too 

Country matters, H 3 2 123 
HAMLET Do you thinke I meant Country matters ^ 

This is either a jingle of the second type, with one of the words understood, 



or It IS a genuine homonymic pun, in that case country must be analyzed 
as an -(^)ry derivation of this understood word Cf Nashe's term mram 
‘copulation' {The Chois e of Valentines, 1 38), which is clearly such a 
derivation of mck ‘slit' (cf neck-nick, below) The same pun is perhaps 
used in AYL 3 2 126, 5 4 58 

Court-Cart, TS i i 54-5 

BAPTiSTA Leave shall you have to court her at your pleasure 
GREMio To cart her rather She's to rough for mee ® 

Courtiers-Curtsies, RJ i 4 72 
MERCUTio On Courtiers knees, that dreame on Curstes strait 

Cousin German-Cosen garmombles, MWW 4 5 79 (Q) 

EVANS For there is three sorts of cosen garmombles 

F has instead “there is three Cozen-Iernians," followed in 11 88-90 by 
Cams' remark, “but it is tell-a-me, dat you make grand preparation for a 
Duke de lamanie," for which Q reads, “But begar I will tell you van ting, 
Dear be a Garmaine Duke come to Court " In 1592 Count Mompelgard, 
duke of Wurtemberg, visited Queen Elizabeth who referred to him as 
“our cousin Mompellgart," and it has been suggested ® that the above 
phrase cosen garmombles is an oblique reference to his none-too-popular 
person This seems far from improbable ^ 

Craftsmen-Craft, R2 i 4 28 

Wooing poore Craftes-men, with the craft of soules [smiles Q] 

Debt-Death, 1H4 i 3 185-6 

HOTSPUR To answer all the Debt he owes unto you, 

Even with the bloody Payment of your deaths 

Discharge-This charge, TNK 2 2 259-60 

KEEPER My Lord for you 

I have this charge too 
PALAMON To discharge my life 

8 Cf Lyly, Euphues, p 190 “Aristippus, a Philosopher, yet who more courtely^ 
Diogenes a Philosopher, yet who more carterly 

9 MWW (CaEd ), pp xix ff , and Rolfe's ed of the play, p 162 

I Crofts, pp 13, 41, IS opposed to such an allusion, connecting instead garmombles 
with Nashe’s geremumble , but this is a vb of doubtful meaning (‘to garbage fish'^) 
and pronunciation (see OED) 



Dote-Doubt, O 3 3 169--70 

lAGO But oh, what damned minutes tels he ore, 

Who dotes, yet doubts Suspects, yet soundly loves ^ 

Effect-Defect, H 2 2 100-3 

poLONius and now remames 
That we finde out the cause of this effect, 

Or rather say, the cause of this defect, 

For this effect defective, comes by cause 

Enfranchtse-One Frances, LLL 3 i 121-3 

ARMADO Sirra Costard, I will tnfranchise thee 
COSTARD O, marrie me to one Francis, I smell some Lenvoy, some 
Goose in this 

Evcuse-Accuse, R3 i 281-6 

RICHARD let me have 

Some patient leysure to excuse my selfe 
ANNE Fouler than heart can thinke thee, thou can’st make 
No excuse currant, but to hang thy selfe 
RICHARD By such dispaire, I should accuse my selfe 
ANNE And by dispairing shalt thou stand excused 2 

Fair-Far, 3H6 2 2 146 
EDWARD Helen of Greece was fayrer farre ® 

Similarly in Cy i i 23-4 

1 GENT So fatre and Outward, and such stuffe Within 
Endowes a man, but hee 

2 GENT You speake him /arr^ 

I GENT I do extend him (Sir) within himself e 

2 These very words, excuse and accuse, are used by Puttenham to illustrate the 
rhetorical figure “prosonomatia ” He writes (p 203) 

^Frove me madame ere ye fall to reprove, 

Meeke mindes should rather excuse than accuse 

“Here the words prove and reprove, excuse and accuse, do pleasantly encounter, and 
(as It were) mock one another by their much resemblance and this is by the figure 
Prosonomatia, as wel as if they were mens proper names, alluding to each other ** 

3 Cf Lyly, Gallathea 448 “These be faire words, but farre from thy true 
thoughts '' 


There is a jmgle on fear-far m L i 4 351 , note also fatre pheare (feere) 
TNK 51116 

Falcon-Falchton, RL 509-11 

So under his insulting Fauchion lies 
Harmeless Lucretia marking what he tels, 

With trembling feare as fowl hear Faidco{n]$ bels 

Feast-Fast, TmA 2 2 180 

STEWARD Feast won, fast lost 

The same jingle occurs in RL 890-1 

Thus secret pleasure turnes to open shame, 

Thy private feasting to a publicke fast * 

Fer-Ferret-Firk, H5 4428-30 

BOY He sayes his Name is M Far 

PISTOL M Fer He fer him, and firke him, and ferret him 

Pistol simply repeats the soldier’s name with a threatening air (Kit- 
tredge, p 662) and m a threatening voice, and then twists it into two 
familiar English words meaning To beat, harass ’ 

Fine-Finer, MA i i 247-8 

BENEDICK and the fine is, (for the which I may goe the finer) 
I will live a Batchellor 

Note also fine-finer J 5 4 37-“8 

Focative Case, MWW 4 i 52-5 

EVANS What is the Focatvie case (William^) 

WILLIAM O, Vocativo, O 

EVANS Remember William, Focative, is caret 

Evans’ mispronunciation of vocative with initial f was obviously calcu- 
lated to call up association with [fAk],® the more so since it is immediately 
followed by the equivocal case with the same connotation as O, used in 

4 C£ *‘o[u]r fasting [is turned] into feasting,” quoted above, p 67, from Hoskyns, 
DtrecUons far Speech and Style 

5 From an IE stem ^pug-, as m Lat pugnare, and a cognate of G ficken with the 
same meaning and Swedish focka , cf Read, p 368, and Hellquist, Svensk etymologisk 


1 S3, above, and m RJ 33 90 Undoubtedly the same suggestiveness 
prompted Mrs Quickly's use of juVd off (3x) m 2H4 2 i 36-7 ® 

Fool-Foul, L 3 4 81-2 

FOOL This cold night will turne us all to Fooles, and Madmen 

EDGAR Take heed o’th’ foide Fiend 

In 3H6 5 6 i8~2o there is a similar play on jool-jowl 

RICHARD Why what a peevish Foole was that of Greet, 

That taught his Sonne the office of a Fowle, 

And yet for all his wings, the Foole was drownM ^ 

For the possibility of a homonymic pun fool-jowl see talent-talon, below 

Foot-Foutre, Gown-Con, Hs 3 4 53-60 

KATHERINE coment appelle vous les pied 8 c de roba 

Ai ICE Le Foot Madame, & le Count 

KATHERINE Le Foot, 8 l It Count O Seignieur Dieu, il sont le mots 
de son mauvais corruptible grosse & impudique, 8 c non pour le Dames 
de Honeur d’user Je ne voudray pronouncer ce mots devant le Seig- 
neurs de France, pour toute le monde, fo le Foot 8 c le Count 

Pistol uses the French word f outre (footra F) To copulate’ as an impreca- 
tion in 2H4 S 3 103 and 120 The phonetic similarity between Elizabethan 
gown [gDun] and Fr con [ku] ‘pudendum’ will explain Katherine’s com- 
ment “mauvais, corruptible, grosse & impudique ” 

Fourteen, R J i 3 12-14 

WIFE Shee’s not fourteene 

NURSE He lay fourteene of my teeth. 

And yet to my teene be it spoken, 

I have but fow e, shee’s not fourteene 

Gemtive-hnny, MWW 4 i 59-64 

See the quotation under horum-whore, for the meaning of case see 
keys-qm's, p 1 19, below 

6 This must be true also of the punning use of Firk's name in Dekker’s The Shoe- 
makers* Holiday, e g , 3 1 49--S2 and 4 3 33 (Brooke- Paradise, pp 273, 282) 

7 These are the corresponding lines m The True Tragedie 

Why, what a foole was that of Creete 

That taught his sonne the office / Of a birde, 

and yet for all that the poore / Fowle was drownde 



Grand juror-Jure, 1H4 2 2 95-7 

FALSTAFF on Bacotis on, what ye knaves Yong men must 
live, you are Grand JurerSt are ye^ Wee’l ]ure ye ifaith 

In this humorous threat, pire, a nonce formation, probably means nothing 
in particular, Kittredge (p 561) compares the use of prat in MWW 
4 2 191-6 in a similar situation 

Gravy-Gravity i 2H4 i 2 182-4 

JUSTICE There is not a white haire on your face, but shold have his 
effect of gravity 

FALSTAFF His effect of gravy, gravy, gravy ® 

Hanc, hoc-Hang-hog, MWW 4 i 49-51 

EVA.NS Accusativo hmg, hang, hog 

QUICKLY Hang-hog, is fatten for Bacon, I warrant you 

Mrs Quickly's misunderstanding of Latin is further illustrated in the 
same scene (11 67-70) where she gives vent to her indignation in the fol- 
lowing words (repeating hic, hac, hoc in 1 43) 

You doe ill to teach the childe such words hee teaches him to hic, 
and to hac , which they’ll doe fast enough of themselves, and to call 
horum, fie upon you 

To Mrs Quickly and her audience hick and hack seem to have had sexual 
connotation, which may be the case also with hack MWW 2 i 52 , see, how- 
ever, OED hack, vb 3, 4, n ® 

Hand-Handle, TA 3 2 29 
O handle not the theame, to talke of hands 

Hardness— Hardiness, Cy 3 6 21—2 

IMOGEN Plentie, and Peace breeds Cowards Hardnesse ever 
Of Hardinesse is Mother 

Holiday-Holy day, J 3 i 81-3 
FRANCE The yearely course that brings this day about, 

8 Cf Lyly, Endtmion 5 2 107-8 “and digge an old wife out of the grave that 
shall be answerable to his gravity ” 

9 Cf Nashe, The Chotse of Valentines, 1 114 “and on hir breeche did hack and 
foyne a-good ” 



Shall never see it, but a holy day 

CONSTANCE A wicked day, and not a holy day 

Horum-Whore, MWW 4 i 59-70 

EVANS What IS your Genitive case plurall (William^) 

WILLIAM Genitive case^ 


WILLIAM Genitive horum, harum, horum 

QUICKLY 'Vengeance of Gmyes case, fie on her, never name her 
(childe) if she be a whore 
QUICKLY and to call horum, fie upon you 

Hue-Hues, S 207-8 

A man in hew all Hews in his controwling 
Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth 

I follow Tucker Brooke’s interpretation ^ here while admitting the possi- 
bility of a pun, now probably lost beyond recovery 

Incarnate-Carnation, H5 2 3 33-6 

BOY and said they were Devles incarnate 
HOSTESS A could never abide Carnation, 'twas a Colour he nevei 

Jef-Yet, 2H6 2 I 1 12-14 

siMPCOX Coale-Black, as Jet 

KING Why then, thou know'st what Colour Jet is of ^ 

SUFFOLK And yet I thinke. Jet did he never see 

Jew-Juvenal, MND 3 i 97 
THiSBE Most brisky Juvenall, and eke most lovely Jew 

Jewel-Juvenal, 2H4 i 2 22-4 

FALSTAFF and send you backe again to your Master, for a 
Jewell The Juvenall (the Prince your Master) whose Chin is not 
yet fledg'd 

Kin-Kind, H i 2 65 

HAMLET A little more then kin, and lesse then kinde 

I Shakespeare's Sonnets, pp 252 f 



With a pun on kind (n ) and kind (adj ) as in MND 5 i 88 f The same 
Jingle occurs in R2 4 i 141 ^ 

Kin-King, 2H4 2 2 120-1 

poiNS Even like those that are kinne to the King 
Similarly Pistol in 2H4 5 3 121 

Sir John, thy tender Lamb-^t«M^, now is King 

Lanthorn-Horn, 2H4 i 2 51-4 

FALSTAFF for he hath the home of Abundance and the light- 
nesse of his Wife shines through it, and yet cannot he see, though he 
have his owne Lanthorne to light him 

Similarly MND 5 i 244 

Last-Last i MV 3 2 205 
With oathes of love, at last, if promise last 

Leamng-Lmng, S 6 12 
Leaving thee living in posterity 

Lethargy-Lechery, TN i 5 131-3 

OLIVIA Cosin, Cosin, how have you come so earely by this 
Lethargie ^ 

TOBY Letcherie, I defie Letchery 

Limbs’-Limehouse— Limbo, H8 5 4 63—8 

PORTER These are the youths that no Audience but the tribula- 
tion of Tower Hill, or the Limhes of Limehouse, their deare Brothers 
are able to endure I have some of 'em in Limbo Patrum 

Since Limehouse was pronounced [lim^s], the similarity with limbs 'mis- 
chievous persons’ is considerable 

Lock-Look, TGV 2 4 89 

VALENTINE Did hold his eyes lockt m her Chnstall lookes 

2 Cf Lyly, Mother Bombte 3 i 21-2 **and the greater kindred is, the lesse the kind- 
ness must be ” For other examples see Kittredge, pp 1026 f 



Lost mutton-Lac*d mutton, TGV i i 101-4 

SPEED I Sir I (a lost-MiUton) gave your Letter to her (a lac*d 
Mutton) and she (z la c*d Mutton) gavemee (z lost-Mutton) nothing 
for my labour 

Lover-Lubber, TGV 2 5 43-8 

SPEED my master is become a notable Lover 
LAUNCE I never knew him otherwise 
SPEED Then how^ 

LAUNCE A notable Lubber as thou reportest him to bee 
Puttenham claims credit for this jingle in The Arte of Enghsh Poeste 

(1589) ^ 

Mad-Mated, CE 3 2 53-4 

LuciANA "What are you mad, that you doe reason so ^ 

ANTiPHOLUs Not 7 nad, but mated, how I doe not know 

Make-Mar, R J i 2 12-13 

PARIS Younger then she, are happy mothers made 
CAPULET And too soone war’d are those so early made 

This antithetic use of make and mar appears elsewhere in Shakespeare, 
e g , RJ 2 4 122-4, TmA 4 2 41, M 2 3 36, O 5 i 4, and AYL i i 31-6, 
where there is a further quibble on marry (see below) 

Marnedr-Marred, AW 23315 
PAROLLES A yong man maned, is a man that’s mard ^ 

3 These are his words (p 203) “And we in our Enterlude called the woer, plaid 
with these two words, lubber and lover, thus, the countrey clowne came & woed a 
young maide of the Citie, and being agreeved to come so oft, and not to have his an- 
swere, said to the old nurse very impatiently 

Iche pray you good mother tell your young dame. 

Whence I am come and what is my name, 

1 cannot come a woing every day 

Quoth the nurse 

They be lubbers and lovers that so use to say ” 

4 This saying is used by Puttenham (p 207) to illustrate the rhetorical figure 
Atanaclasis “The maide that soone married is, soone marred is” Similarly Lyly, 
Mother Bombte 4 2 150-2 



The same j ingle occurs in AYL i i 35 and in the present participle form 
in MWW I I 24-6, where we have practically a homonymic pun 

SLENDER I may quarter (Coz) 

SHALLOW You may, by marrying 
EVANS It is marring indeed, if he quarter it 

Marry-Merry, 2H6 i 2 87-8 

Hume must make merry with the Duchesse gold 
Marry and shall 

Mastership-Master's ship, TGV 3 i 280-1 

SPEED what newes with your Mastership ^ 

LAUNCE With my Mastership'^ why, it is at Sea 

Meat-Maid, TGV i 2 68-9 

LUCETTA That you might kill your stomacke on your meat, 
And not upon your Maid 

Mock-Mark, MM 5 i 324 
As much in mocke, as marke 

Mocks-Makes, AC 5 i 2-3 

CJESAR tell him he mockes 
The pawses that he makes 

Moi-Moy, H5 44 13-14 

FRENCH O prennes miserecordie aye pitez de may 
PISTOL May shall not serve, I will have fortie Moyes 

Similarly H5 4 4 22-3 , for moy see OED 

Mortar-man-Mortimer, 2H6 42 41-3 

CADE My Father was a Mortimer 

BUTCHER He was an honest man, and a good Bricklayer 

The Butcher's aside implies that he is associating Mortimer with mortar 
or with a compound hke mortar-man or mortar-maker 

Muddy-Mood, AW 5 2 4-5 

but I am now sir muddied in fortunes mood 




Mutter-Matter, TmA 3 460-2 

1 VAR MAN How ^ What does his casheer’d Worship 

2 VAR MAN No matter what, hee's poore, and thafs revenge 

Nuthook-Note, MWW 1 1 170-2 

NYM I will say marry trap with you, if you runne the nut-hooks 
humor on me, that is the very note of it 

Peat (heaLt)-Pate, Hs 5 i 43 
FLUELLEN or I Will peate his pate foure dayes 

Peer-Peerless, RL 21 
But King nor Peere to such a peerelesse dame 

Pehcan-Pilhcock, L 3 4 77-8 

LEAR Those Pelicane Daughters 

EDGAR Ptlhcock sat on PilUcock [pehcocks Q] hill 

Lear must have pronounced pehcan with [i] (cf the 16th-century spelling 
pillycane, OED), and echoing him Edgar very likely chose to interpret 
the word as a compound, pxhc-hen 

Pen-Penury, S 84 5 
Leane penune within that Pen doth dwell 

Ptnfold-Ptnfold,TGV 1 1 113-16 

PROTEUS I meane the pound, a Pinfold 

SPEED From a pound to a pin ^ fold it over and over 

Plant-Plantagenet, 3H6 1 1 48 
WARWICK He plant Plantagenet, root him up who dares 

Potent-Pothng, O 2 3 78-9 

lAGO I learned it in England where indeed they are most potent in 

Pnnce-Prentice, 2H4 2 2 193-4 
PRINCE From a Prince, to a Prentice, a low transformation 
that shall be mine 


Prentice may have been pronounced with [i] or possibly prince with [^] 

Pucelle-Pussel, iH6 i 4 107 
TALBOT Pueel or Pussel, Dolphin or Dog-fish 
Cf Laneham’s (1575) spelling pusels 

Purse-Person, 2H4 2 i 127 (Q) 

JUSTICE made her serve your uses both in purse and in person 
Similarly m MV i i 138 

Raven-Ravening, RJ 3 2 76 

JULIET Ravenous ^ Dove-feathered Raven, Wolvish-ravemng 

Red-Rid, T i 2 364-5 

CALIBAN the r^d-plague nd you 

For learning me your language 

Rich-Reechy, C 21 225 
Her richest Lockram ’bout her reechie necke 

Roe-Romeo, RJ 2438-40 

BENVOLio Here comes Romeo, here comes Romeo 
MERCUTio Without his Roe, like a dryed Hering 

It IS entertaining to read Kittredge’s learned but unrealistic comment 
(p 734) on the phrase without his roe 

Rue-Ruth, R2 3 4 105-6 

He set a Banke of Rew, sowre Herbe of Grace 
Rue, ev'n for ruth, heere shortly shall be scene 

Ruin— Ruminate, S 64 ii 
Ruine hath taught me thus to ruminate 

Scar-Scorn, TC i i 114 
TROiLus Let Pans bleed, 'tis but a scar to scorne 
5 Not m Qa, the accepted text 



Sense-Innocence, MND 2 2 45 
LYSANDER O take the sence sweet, of my innocence 

Single-Singular-Singleness, RJ 2466-70 

MERCUTio when the single sole of it is worne, the jeast may 
remaine after the wearing, solt-stngular 
ROMEO O single sol’d jeast, soly singular for the singlenesse 

Sms-Sense-Senstial, S 35 8-9 

Excusing their sms more then their sms are 
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sence 

It IS not improbable that sense and sensual were pronounced with [i] 
Stars-S fairs, 2H4 2 4 200-2 

PISTOL Sweet Knight, I kisse thy Neaffe what ^ wee have seene the 
seven Starres 

DOLT Thrust him downe stayi es 

Stoics-Stocks, TS I I 31 
TRANio Let’s be no Sfoickes, nor no stockes I pray ® 

Stone-Asfonish, RL 1730 
Stone still, astonishf with this deadlie deed 

Suffolk-Suffocate, 2H6 i i 124 
YORK For Suffolkes duke, may he be suffocate 

Tender-Tender, H i 3 105-9 

Marry He teach you , thinke your selfe a Baby, 

That you have tane his tenders for true pay. 

Which are not starling Tender your selfe more dearly. 

Or not to crack the winde of the poore Phrase, 

Roaming it thus, you’l tender me a foole 

Testijy-T estern,TG\[ i i 152-3 

To tesHfie your bounty, I thank you, you have testern^d (cestern^d 
F) me 

6 Cf Lyly, Euphues (p 190) “Who so severe as the Stoyckes, which lyke stockes 
were moved with no melody ” Similarly p 210 



Tittle-Title, LLL 4 i 84-5 

What, shalt thou exchange for ragges, roabes for tittles titles, for 
thy selfe mee 

Tittle and title could formerly be pronounced alike (see OED) , they are 
listed as homonyms in The Writing Scholar* s Companion (1695) 

Toil-Toil, LLL 4 3 2 f 

They have a pitcht a Toyle, I am toylmg in a pytch, pitch that defiles 
A play on toil "net" and toil "to labor/ as well as on pitch (vb) and pitch 


Tongue-Tang, T 2 2 52 
For she had a tongue with a tang 

Trap-Tropically, H 3 2 246-7 

KING What do you call the Play^ 

HAMLET The Mouse-trap Marry how^ Tropically 

Q2 reads frapically for F tropically, which may have some significance both 
phonologically and contextually (see pp 223 f , below) 

Tnplex-Tripping, TN S i 41 
CLOWN the triplex sir, is a good tripping measure 

Use-Usurer, R J 3 3 123-4 

Which like a Usurer abound'st in all 
And usest none in that true use indeed 

Veal-Well, ULL $2 247 

KATHERINE Veale quoth the Dutch-man is not Veale a Calfe'^ 

A mocking reference to a Dutchman's, i e , probably a German's, mispro- 
nunciation of well as veal [vg 1] ^ 

Vile-Wild, J 4 3 48 

The wildest Savagery, the vildest stroke 

For vild, a common variant of vile, see p 299, below 

7 For a similar pun see Dekker, The Shoemakers* Holiday 3 1 179-81 But there 
IS absolutely no play on veal and Longavtlle as suggested in NQ, 146 (1951), 136-7 



Vtsor-Vtce, R3 2 2 27-8 

Ah ’ that Deceit should steale such gentle shape, 

And with a vertuous Vtsor hide deepe vice 

It IS worth nothing that Qq read mwd and ml 28 Notewor- 

vtsor RJ I 4 30 

Why-Way, AYL 2 7 52 

jAQUEs The why is plaine, as way to Parish Church 

There is not much truth in the statement that this obvious quibble ^ Vas 
still more obvious in Elizabethan pronunciation’’ , ® why was pronounced 
[hw3i] and way [w^ ] 

Woe-Woo, RJ 3 4 8 

PARIS These times of wo, affoord no times to woo e 

The Q2 spellings are woe and woo, respectively This line should be com- 
pared with 3 5 120, where Juliet says 

Ere he that should be Husband comes to woe, 

whose last word is spelled zvooe in Q2 The possibility of a pun woe-moo is 
perhaps not to be completely discountenanced, for The Writing Scholar* s 
Companion (1695) couples *Wo misery Woe, Court, or to be a Suiter” 
(p 105) as homonyms 

8 AYL (Clarendon ed ), p 134 


Like the jingles just dealt with, the homonymic puns have been listed 
alphabetically without any attempt at classification or subdivision From 
a phonological point of view it matters very little, indeed, what labels we 
choose for them, the important thing being that these words can be proved 
to have been pronounced alike or very nearly so in Shakespeare's time , for 
a discussion of the problem of deliberate phonetic distortion see p 65, 
above Multiple homonyms have as a rule been grouped together, e g , 
hair-heir-her e-hare, even though normally only two of the words are 
used for punning in the same passage In a few instances a group of inter- 
related puns have likewise been dealt with in the same article, e g , keys- 
qui's, case-quae's, cods-quod's (p 119, below) 

The reader who m vain looks for several homonymic puns claimed in 
modern Shakespeare editions or elsewhere should not conclude that they 
have been accidentally omitted from the list They have been weighed 
and found wanting, mostly because they violate the fundamental principles 
of historical phonology It would have been sheer waste of energy, time, and 
space to enter upon a detailed refutation of bogus homonymic puns like 
angle-angel-English (MWW i 3 soff ), fia- fiend (MV 2211), Kate- 
Kite (TS 4 I 198),® or White's brain-wave body-beauty just mentioned, 
an appallingly long-lived specimen Occasionally 16th-century variants 
have been mistaken for puns This is true of hent H 3 3 88, which is proba- 
bly htnt pronounced with [^] (for similar cases see p 212, below), legend 
MWW I 3 59, which is nothing but with an excrescent d (seep 300, 
below), and setting AW i i 129, which betrays the usual confusion of sit 
and set 

Symptomatic perhaps of the eager search for all sorts of verbal am- 
biguities, whether plausible or not, which has followed in the wake of Wil- 
liam Empson's Seven Types oj Ambiguity, is the abortive effort of T W 
Herbert to make a case for a Shakespearean pun tomb-tome in MLN, 64 
( 1949) 7 235 ff The context does not warrant such a wordplay, even though 
the two words may have been homonyms with some speakers at least, 
thus Hodges (1643) gives tomb and tome as pronounced alike, and there 
IS one instance of a 17th-century rhyme tome doom, which indicates a 

9 All to be found in CaEd Equally inexcusable is the suggested pun doctors- 
daughters MWW 5 5 184, Arden ed, p 221 



variant [tu m], probably of dialectal provenance ^ The normal pronuncia- 
tion of tome in Shakespeare’s time would have been [to m] ( < Fr tome), 
the antecedent of modern [toum] Another instance of this unhealthy 
hunting for ambiguities is M M Mahood’s assumption of a subtle play on 
shoal and school in M i 7 6, for which see p 24, above This is a question 
of spelling pure and simple, and no Shakespearean pun was ever based 
upon the spelling of a word , either meaning or pronunciation is involved, 
but never orthography Moreover, this particular spelling is in all proba- 
bility due to the interference of the printer So if we accept Theobald’s 
reading shoal 'shallow, sand-bank,’ there cannot possibly have been a pun 
on school, and if we take school at its face value, then any association with 
this shoal IS out of the question 

For the very same reason it will be necessary to reject the alleged pun 
salve-’Lzt salve in LLL 3 i 71-80, suggested by Hart (Arden ed ) and 
generally accepted ^ 

MOTH A wonder Master, here^s a Costard broken in a shin 
ARMADO Some enigma, some riddle, come, thy Lenvoy begin 
COSTARD No egma, no riddle, no lenvoy, no salve, in thee male sir 
Or sir, Plantan, a plaine Plantan no lenvoy, no lenvoy, no Salve, 
sir, but a Plantan 

ARMADO By vertue thou inforcest laughter, thy sillie thought, my 
spleene, the heaving of my lunges provokes me to rediculous smyling 
O Pardon me my stars, doth the inconsiderate take salve for lenvoy, 
and the word lenvoy for a salve ^ 

MOTH Doe the wise thinke them other, is not lenvoy a salve"^ 

Costard, who supposedly does not know what lenvoy and enigma mean, 
associates the latter with egg, obviously analyzing it as a combination of 
the indefinite article an [on] and egma (see p 215, below) , moreover, he 
may have misinterpreted riddle as a variant of reddle or ruddle, something 
that was not but might have been in his mail But it is most unlikely that 
V envoy, "the author’s parting words, a dedication, postscript” (OED), 
was associated by Armado with Lat salve, "a salutation on meeting” 
(OED) The English word was pronounced either [sse v] (possibly [sa v] ) 
or [sselv], while Lat salve was [sselvi] or [sselvi ] Costard would never 

1 See also Louthan’s article, pp 375 ^ , unfortunately its phonetic symbols have 
been poorly reproduced in printing The tome doom rhyme occurs in Browne, 2, 13, 
11 15-16, Commendatory Verses, “An Ode entreating him to proceed,” not written 
by Browne himself but by an admirer Herbert’s phonological argument is entirely 

2 The Warwick ed is an exception, it sees “no strong evidence of wordplay on 
salve (ointment) and salve (salute)” here (p 108) 



have pronounced English salve with a final [i] or [i ], and so far as I can 
see, there is nothing in the text to indicate that Armado’s use of salve 
involved the I^tin word The whole thing is a spelling pun invented by 
Hart on the analogy of a genuine quibble on salve-salve in Greene’s 
Mamilha ® 

On the other hand it is much harder to determine whether or not there 
was originally a pun queen-quean in AC 2 6 69-72 

POMPEY And I have heard Appolodorus carried — 

ENOBARBUS No more of that, he did so 
POMPEY What, I pray you ^ 

ENOBARBUS A certaine Queene to Caesar in a Matns 

Such a pun, which readily suggests itself to the modern reader, presup- 
poses a leveling of the two words in Elizabethan English which contem- 
porary phonological evidence proves to have been possible, at any rate m 
colloquial speech Polite speakers, however, who retained ] in quean, 
would hardly have picked up the pun, unless they knew of or actually used 
both pi onunciations of quean and were prepared to interpret queen 
[kwi n], perhaps spoken with suggestive intonation by Enobarbus, as a 
variant of quean [kw§ n] The fact that ordinarily Shakespeaie uses the 
polite pronunciation of ME f , that is [^ ] , in punning, makes the alleged 
pun appear dubious 

After this preamble we can begin the analysis of Shakespeare’s homo- 
nymic puns 

Abased- A Beast-Baste-B easily 

There is much quibbling, some of it quite involved, in CE 3 2, where 
Dromio and Antipholus are making a ribald survey of the kitchen wench’s 
physical qualities Her greasiness is repeatedly referred to, directly as in 
11 96 ff (see grace-grease, below) and indirectly, I suspect, by the use 
of such homonyms as cla%mr<leam ‘to smear, bedaub, stick to’ and 
beast (ly) -baste (11 81-9) 

DROMIO Marne sir, besides my selfe, I am due to a woman One 
that claimes me, one that haunts me, one that will have me 

ANTIPHOLUS What claime laies she to thee? 

DROMIO Marry sir, such claime as you would lay to your horse, and 
she would have me as a beast, not that I beeing a beast she would have 
me, but that she being a vene beastly creature layes claime to me 

The same pun abased-a beast occurs m 2H4 2 i 40 and TmA 4 3 324 ff 

3 See Arden ed , p 48 




Like her Elizabethan sisters, Desdemona is disposed to quibble when 
an occasion arises, as in O 4 2 161-2 

I cannot say Whore 

It do^s abhorre me now I speake the word 
Note further the punning name of the Executioner in MM, Abhor son 


In the 1 6th century words like ace, embrace, grace could still be pro- 
nounced with a short vowel [ae] as a variant of [g ] (see p 176, below), 
so that ace and ass were homonyms with many speakers , but even if this 
valiant was not used, it would perhaps have been possible to produce the 
same pun by raising and prolonging the [se] in to [e ] , as in Cy 2 3 i ff 
and MND 5 i 312 ff (cited here) 

PYRAMUS Now dye, dye, dye, dye, dye 
DEMETRIUS No Die, but an ace for him , for he is but one 
LYSANDER Lesse then an ace man For he is dead, he is nothing 
DUKE With the helpe of a Smgeon, he might yet recover, and prove 
an Asse 

Note the additional pun die (Yh)-die (n ) here 
The word ass itself is used in several puns on e g , in H 5 2 43, where 
Hamlet sums up three clauses, all beginning with as, in these words 

And many such like Assis of great charge 

Other examples will be found in H5 514, TN 2 3 184 f , and LLL 
5 2 628 ff {as-ass-Jud-as) 


Throughout the i6th and 17th centuries people seem to have kept up the 
historically correct distinction between the noun ache (< OE cece) and 
the verb ache (< OE acan), pronouncing the former with [tj] and the 
latter with [k], but during the i8th century the pronunciation of the verb 
ousted that of the noun (OED) Walker (1791) calls the form with [tJ] 
obsolete, and Leigh Hunt, in his Autobiography (/, 292 f ),® mentions it 
as a characteristic of John Philip Kemble’s (1757-1823) stage pronuncia- 

4 Cf Lyly's puns on Mars-mass, Ars--ass, As-as m Endimton i 3 91 ff , and on 
ass-as m Mother Bombte 4 2 148 f 

5 Cf also Horn, *'Zur enghschen Buhnensprache,” pp 40 ff 

Shakespeare’s homonymic puns 


tion, the famous actor’s usage had probably been inspired by Johnson’s 
DicHonary, where “the primitive manner” of making aches dissyllabic is 
said to be “preserved chiefly in poetry, for the sake of measure,” and also 
by the well-known line from T i 2 370 “Fill all thy bones with Aches, make 
thee rore ” 

The pun ache-H occurs in MA 3 4 53 in these lines (AC 

47 7 - 8 ) 

SCARUS I had a wound heere that was like a T, 

But now 'tis made an H 

An Aim- A Name 

It has been suggested (CaEd, p 98) that Dromio's enigmatic speech 
in CE 3 I 46-7 

If thou hadst beene Dromio to day in my place, 

Thou wouldst have chang'd thy face for a name, or thy name for an 

can be made intelligible by assuming that there is a pun on an atm and a 
name, and on thine aim and thy name This suggestion has been accepted 
by Parrott,® who emends the text to an aim, adding the explanatory foot- 
note *^an aim, a butt or mark His face has been the 'aim’ of blows and 
he has been called an ass ” Phonologically such a quibble would be quite 
in order, and since it seems to make sense out of an otherwise obscure 
passage, it may well be correct 

But it is more difficult to believe that there is a pun am-aini in CE 
3 2 66, where Antipholus says to Luciana 

Call thy selfe sister sweet, for I am thee 

In 1 63 he has called her his "sweet hopes aime/' and if aim is intended in 
1 66, we must look upon am as a misprint rather than a pun 

Air-H eir 

Since these words have been pronounced alike for centuries,^ there may 
perhaps be a subtle play on heir in Hamlet’s reply to the King’s question 
in H 3 2 97 ff 

KING How fares our Cosm Hamlet^ 

HAMLET Excellent Ifaith, of the Camelions dish I eate the Ayre 
promise-cramm’d, you cannot feed Capons so 

6 Shakespeare Twenty-Three Plays and the Sonnets,^ 115 

7 They are given as homonyms by Butler (1634) and Hodges (1643) Lyly puns 
on them in Mother Bombte 2 2 24-6 and 5 3 113 


To be at all effective such a pun needs the supporting play on eat and 
hate as in TmA (see below) The King is stung by Hamlet’s intentional 
misunderstanding of fares and his consequent reference to Ayre promise- 
crammed, whereas Hamlet may at the same time be giving oblique expres- 
sion to his self-hatred for not having revenged his father 

A]ax-A Jakes 

No Elizabethan would have missed this pun in LLL 5 2 579-81, em- 
phasized as It is by the immediately piecedmg word close stoole 

your Lion that holds his Pollax sitting on a close stoole^ will be 
given to A]ax 

All-Awl, JC I I 24ff 

COBBLER Truly sir, all that I live by, is with the Aule I meddle with 
no Tradesmans matters, nor womens matters, but withal I am indeed 
Sir, a Surgeon to old shooes 

An-Anne, MWW i 4 133-7 

Humoring the irascible Dr Cams who demands her help in wooing 
Anne Page, Mrs Quickly assures him that she will do what she can Her 
reply is particularly interesting, I think, because it shows the precise tim- 
ing of his exit he is out of the room when she has said An, so that she is 
able to continue after a brief pause and in a different voice fooles head 
This IS how I interpret the F spelling An-fooles here 

QUICKLY You shall have ^w-fooles head of your owne No, I know 
Ans mind for that never a woman m Windsor knowes more of Ans 
minde then I doe 

Arden-Harden, AYL 2 4 i6~i8 

Having arrived in the Forest of Arden, Rosalind remarks, “Well this 
is the Forest of Arden,” to which the “Clowne, alias Touchstone” replies 

I, now am I in Arden, the more foole I, when I was at home I was 
in a better place, but Travellers must be content 

In my article “Touchstone in Arden” I have given good reasons for the 
assumption that Shakespeare is here punning on harden (hearden, bur- 
den < OE he or dan), a coarse fabric made from the hards of flax or hemp, 
sackcloth, and that consequently it was the practice for the actor playing 
Touchstone to exchange his motley for, or cover it with, a harden smock 
in order to render plausible his escape from the palace 


Shakespeare’s homonymic puns 

Arms-Arms, TS 2 i 222-4 

KATHERiNA So may you loose your armes, 

If you strike me, you are no Gentleman, 

And if no Gentleman, why then no armes 

Art-H eart-H art 

Lucentio’s play on art and heart in TS 4 2 8-10 seems to carry with it a 
secondary quibble on hart, suggested by the punning use of dear in 1 9 

LUCENTio I reade, that I professe the Art to love 
BIANCA And may you prove sir Master of your Art 
LUCENTIO While you sweet deere prove Mistresse of my heart 

Note also the pun art {yb)-art (n ) m RJ 2 4 93-5 
Aufidius—So fiddioiis'd 

Menenius’ quibbling use of the name Aufidtus as a past participle, so 
fiddious'd, in C 2 I 139-45 has been taken to mean ‘chastized’ and 
‘trounced,’ ® obviously on the strength of 1 139 

MENENIUS Ha’s he disciplin’d Auffidius soundly ^ 
voLUMNiA Titus Lartius writes, they fought together, but Auffidius 
got off 

MENENIUS And ’twas time for him too, He warrant him that and 
he had stay’d by him, I would not have been so fiddious^d, for all the 
Chests m Carioles, and the Gold that’s in them 

Such an interpretation seems plausible enough, though the occurrence in 
the 17th century of ftdious, aphaeretic form of perfidious (OED), should 
not be overlooked, in view of Aufidius’ role m the drama For the present 
study, however, it is important to remember that so forms part of the pun 


In RJ 3 2 45 ff Juliet gives vent to her anxiety m this fashion 

Hath Romeo slaine himselfe ^ say thou but I 
And that bare vowell I shall poyson more 
Then the death-darting eye of Cockatrice, 

I am not 7, if there be such an 7 

Or those eyes shot, that makes thee answere 7 

If he be slame say 7, or if not, no 

Briefe, sounds, determine of my weak or wo 

8 Khttredge, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Glossary 



Similar punning occurs in LLL 3 i i88 f , Ra 4 i 201 f , RJ i 3 57-8, and 
TN25i32f,25 144-50 An interesting play on the letter I as used in a 
typical spelling exercise of the period is to be found in TGV i i 118 if 

PROTEUS But what said she ^ 

SPEED I [nods] 

PROTEUS Nod- 7 , why that’s noddy 

SPEED You mistooke Sir I say she did nod , And you aske me if she 
did nod, and I say I 

PROTEUS And that set together is noddy 

SPEED Now you have taken the pames to set it together, take it for 
your paines 

It is a mistake to conclude from this passage that noddy was pronounced 
with final [or] ® — it may have been but most likely was not, a schoolboy 
would have spelled noddie like this n-o-d, nod, d-i-e [di , 91, 1 ], dte 
[dor], noddle [nodr] 

Baa-Bah, TGV i i 96 f 

PROTEUS therefore thou art a Sheepe 

SPEED Such another proofe will make me cry bad 


In the r6th and 17th centuries barn was the normal spelling of bairn, 
which IS a modern orthographical loan from Scots, and this southern 
form barn (< OE beam) had the same pronunciation as barn (< OE 
bere~ern) Already Dr Johnson had discovered the pun bairns-barns 
in MA 3 4 49, but no one seems to have noticed the additional play on 
stable (n ) and stable (adj ) 'firm, erect/ which clarifies the principal pun 
and is quite in keeping with the bawdy double talk of Beatrice, Hero, and 
Margaret in the rest of this scene 

MARGARET Qaps into Light a love, (that goes without a burden,) 
do you sing it and He dance it 

BEATRICE Ye Light alove with your heeles, then if your husband 
have stables enough, you’ll looke he shall lacke no barnes 


Petruchio's use of baite (now usually spelled bate) and beate in TS 
41 198-9, 

That is, to watch her, as we watch these Kites 
That baite and beate, and will not be obedient, 

9 So explained by Ayres, p 242 



may not strictly speaking be a pun, although the falconing terms bate and 
beat certainly were homonyms then, and besides almost synonymous Bate 
itself IS used, perhaps, with a quibble on (a)bate in H5 3 7 122 

"tis a hooded valour, and when it appeares, it will bate 

It occurs also in Juliet’s lines, RJ 3 2 12 ff , 

And learne me how to loose a winning match, 

Plaid for a paire of stamlesse Maidenhoods, 

Hood my unman'd blood bayting in my Cheekes, 

With thy Blacke mantle, 

where a play on beating is far from improbable , note, besides, the elab- 
orate quibbling use of maidenhood, hood, unman'd 
In WT 2 3 91 ff Leontes puns on beat and bait 

A Callat 

Of boundlesse tongue, who late hath heat her Husband, 

And now bayts me This Brat is none of mine 

And there may well be a quibble on bait on 'to feast on’ in 2H6 2 i 19 f 

Thy Heaven is on Earth, thine Eyes & Thoughts 
Beat on a Crowne, the Treasure of thy Heart 

Bar e-Bear 

This pun,^ with its companions knave-nave and rung-wrong, for which 
see below, occurs in Mrs Quickly’s bawdy soliloquy in 2H4 2 i 40-1 

unles a woman should be made an Asse and a Beast, to beare 
every Knaves wrong 

B arrenness— Bareness 

A quibble barrenness-barren ness in CE 3 2 122 ff has been suggested 
(CaEd,p loi) 

ANTiPHOLUS Where Scotland^ 

DROMio I found it by the barrennesse, hard in the palme of the hand 

In that case, what meaning are we to give to barrenness, which is obviously 
used here with reference to the hand^ None of the meanings recorded in 
OED seem to fit the context, nor does Maria’s puzzling use of barren 
TN I 3 84 come to our help ^ For this reason I am inclined to favor a pun 

1 Used by Lyly m Mother Bombte 5 2 12 

2 For a possible explanation see Kittredge, p 389 


on bareness ‘leanness/ which is used by Shakespeare in 1H4 4 2 77 (bare 
‘lean’ appears in 1 75) The same pun may occur in S 5 8 

Base (n, adj )-Bass 

A good example of this pun is found in TS 3 i 46 f 

HORTENsio Madam, tis now in tune 
LUCENTio All but the base 

HORTENSIO The base is right, 'tis the base knave that jars 

Similarly in TGV i 2 96, with a play on the phrase to bid base ‘to challenge 
to a chase ’ 

Be-Beey TS 2 i 206 f 

KATHERiNA And yet as heavie as my waight should he 
PETRUCHio Shold be, should huzze ^ 


One instance occurs in MND 5 i 231 f 

THESEUS A vene gentle beast, and of a good conscience 
DEMETRIUS The verie best at a beast, my Lord, that ere I saw 

Another will be found m MV i 2 94-6 * 


According to ancient physiologists black bile was the cause of melan- 
choly, and it is therefore amazing to find that no commentator has under- 
stood that in TN 2 5 2-4 Fabian is quibbling on the homonyms bile and 

if I loose a scruple of this sport, 
let me be boyl'd to death with Melancholly 

Btll—B til 

A pun on bill ‘weapon’ and bill ‘label, notice’ is used in AYL i 2 131, 
for which see presence-presents, below, similarly in 2H6 47 135, MA 
3 3 191, TmA 3 4 86-91, and TS 4 3 152 f 

3 Lyly has a similar pun on be-bee in Campaspe 4 1 8-9 

4 Cf Lyly, Euphttes, p 236 “If the Gods thoughte no scome to become beastes, to 
obtayne their best beloved " 




Since bony apparently had an early variant with written bonny in 
1598 (OED), and moreover bony in the appended quotation from TS 
2 I 187 may stand for either bony or bonny ^ there is every likelihood that 
we have a pun here 

And bony Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst 

Boot (n )-Boot (n )-Boot (vb) 

From TGV 1 1 23-8 comes this bit of insipid punning 

PROTEUS That's a deepe Stone, of a deeper love, 

For he was more then ovev-shooes in love 
VALENTINE 'Tis true, for you are ovtr-hootes in love, 

And yet you never sworn the Hellespont 
PROTEUS Over the Bootes^ nay give me not the Boots 
VALENTINE No, I Will not , for it boots thee not 

In 1H4 2 I 9i“5 we have a play on boot 'booty' and boot 'shoe,' with a 
subsidiary semantic pun on hquo 7 'd 'greased,' and in 1H4 3 i 67-8 a 
similar play on bootless and boots 

See the quotation under soar-sore, below 


See the quotation and discussion under rawr-ram, below 


There is an obvious pun on cade and Lat cade in 2H6 4 2 33-7 

CADE Wee John Cade, so tearmM of our supposed Father 
BUTCHER Or rather of stealing a Cade of Herrings 
CADE For our enemies shall falle [F faile] before us 

Calf-Ccdf, LLL 5 2 643-6 

LONGAViLLE His Icgge is too big for Hector 

DUMAiN More Calfe certaine 

BOYET No, he IS best indued in the small 


According to Owen Price (1668), cdm and qudm were words of like 


sound, ^ and so they were, evidently, in Shakespeare's day, to judge by the 
pun m 2H4 2 4 39 fF 

FALSTAFF How now Mistris Dol ^ 

HOSTESS Sick of a Calme yea, good-sooth 

FALSTAFF So IS all her Sect ® if they be once in a Calmer they are 

DOLL You muddle Rascall, is that all the comfort you give me 
The same pun seems to be used in LLL 5 2 278 ff 


Mrs Quickly's canaries for quandaries MWW 2 2 61 is a malapropism 
with a punning effect 

Capitol-Capital, H 32 107-11 

See the quotation under Brutus-Brute, above 


Conclusive evidence to the effect that cardinal had coalesced in pro- 
nunciation with carnal will be given on p 299, below In H8 3 i 102-4 
Queen Katherine makes use of this disyllabic form of cardinal in a sar- 
castic quibble 

The more shame for ye , holy men I thought ye, 

Upon my Soule two reverend Cardinall Vertues 
But Cardinall Sms, and hollow hearts I feare ye ^ 


Lat caret 'is missing' as used by Evans in MWW 4 1 55 is misunder- 
stood by Mrs Quickly, whose naive comment ® is clearly meant to accen- 
tuate the obscene association suggested by Evans' mispronunciation of 

EVANS Remember William, Focative, is caret 

QUICKLY And that's a good roote 

5 See Ellis, pp 968, 1025 

6 This use of sect for sejv goes back to ME times , see OED and my article “The 
Wyf of Bathe and al hire Secte,” pp 147 ff 

7 Note this interesting parallel from Lyly, Euphues, p 255 “Besides all this their 
shadows shew them rather Cardinals curtisans, then modest Matrones, and 
more carnally affected ” 

8 Carrot may have conveyed the associations suggested by Partridge, Shake- 
speare's Bawdy y p 84 




Though OED does not record carrots m the sense of Ted or carroty hair' 
until about 1685, this must have been a popular connotation when Shake- 
speare wrote the scene in which Dromio is “finding out countries” about 
the fat kitchen wench in CE 3 2 140-1 

Spame, who sent whole Armadoes of Carjects to be ballast 
at her nose 

Cat-Kat e-Cates 

These obvious puns occur in TS 2 i 189-91 and 2 i 278-80 

Kate of Kate-hall, my super-damtie Katej 
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore Kate 
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation 

For I am he am borne to tame you Kate, 

And bring you from a wilde Kate to a Kate 
Conformable as other houshold Kates 

The spelling cate 4 og in TGV 3 i 273 may indicate a similar pun, with a 
deliberate distortion of catalogue , yet Launce never mentions the name 
of his love ’ 


Dover Wilson ® seems to be the only editor to realize that there is a 
grim pun on cheer and chair in M 5 3 20-1 

Seyton, I say, this push 
Will cheere me ever, or dis-eate me now 

Cheer and chair were formerly homonyms as still dialectally (see p 179, 
below), cf Anchors cheere H 32229 (Q2) for anchor's chair The 
hyphenated F spelling dis-eate, with loss of the second s, has a fine parallel 
in dis-seate TNK 5 4 72 

Choler—C ollar-C olor 

No one is likely to disagree with Kittredge (p 568) that Prince HaFs 
play on choler and collar The hangman's noose' and on the double mean- 

9 CaEd, p 164, Muir (new Arden ed, p 151) follows Wilson but unfortunately 
reprints Cuningham's phonological speculations on heare for hatr Kittredge’s lengthy 
note (p 756) IS typically unimaginative 


ings of nghtly and taken in 1H4 2 4 354ff is a masterpiece of concen- 
trated quibbling 

BARDOLPH What thinke you they portend ? 

PRINCE Hot Livers, and cold Purses 
BARDOLPH CholeTj my Lord, if nghtly taken 
PRINCE No, if rightly taken, Halter 

Obviously collar and color were also pronounced alike, for the same 
macabre jest is used in 2H4 5 5 90 fF 

FALSTAFF This that you heard, was but a colour 
SHALLOW A colour I feare, that you will dye, in Sir John 
FALSTAFF Feare no colours, go with me to dinner 

Similarly in TN i 5 5-13 In RJ i i 1-6 Sampson and Gregory pun on 


Early spellings in OED show that during the isth to 17th centuries 
Semite was regularly pronounced like c%ml, a fact borne out also by 
Beatrice^ sarcastic remark m MA 2 i 303 ff 

The Count is neither sad, nor sicke, nor merry, nor well but ctvill 
Count, civxll as an Orange, and something of a jealous complexion 

The very same pun is used by Nashe in 1593 ^ht is as civil as a civil 
orenge” (OED) 


See the quotation and discussion under abased-a beast, etc , above 

Chp-Chp-Clepe, LLL 5 2 602-4 

HOLOFERNES Judas I am, ychped Machabeus 
DUMAiN Judas Machabeus dipt, is plame Judas 
BEROWNE A kissing traitor 


Several early orthoepists record coat and quote as homonyms, e g , 
Hodges (1643), who gives this example “A coat of diverse colours A 
sheep-co^^ To quote a place of Scripture '' Shakespeare puns on the two 
words in TGV 2 4 18 f 

THURio And how quoat you my folly ^ 

VALENTINE I quoat it in your Jerkin 




That there is such a pun in MWW i i 15-27 (see the quotation under 
loose^-Luce-louse, below) can hardly be doubted, but the phonological 
explanation is much less clear In particular I find it difficult to subscribe 
to Dover Wilson's suggestion (CaEd , p 104) that Evans' confusion be- 
tween d and t is responsible for his d here, with a reference to cod ‘testicle ' 
First of all it should be noted that it is Shallow who uses coat for cod, 
and not Evans, whose coat makes perfect sense as it stands And secondly, 
even if we allow for an obscene pun here, perhaps reinforced by the word 
salt with the secondary meaning ‘lascivious/ it certainly seems odd that 
in such a case Shallow should use the pronunciation coat Since the coat- 
cod pun occurs in Shallow's line, it is either dialectal ^ or, perhaps, de- 
liberately mimics Evans' broken English 

Com— Quoin 

A pun on quoin ‘wedge' with the same sexual connotation as weapon 
in 2H4 2 I 17 is obviously intended in 1H4 i 2 61-2, where the Prince 

Yea, and elsewhere, so farre as my Come would stretch 

Couching and ramping 1H4 3 1 153 are doubtless jocular alterations 
of the heraldic terms couchant and rampant, which if pronounced without 
their final t become homonymous with the first two words 

A couching Lyon, and a ramping Cat 

Council-Counsel, MWW i i 120 fl 
SHALLOW The Councell shall know this 

PALSTAFF 'Twere better for you if it were known in councell 
you’ll be laugh'd at 


The context favors such a pun in J 3 1 176 ff 

PANDULPH And meritonous shall that hand be call’d, 

Canonized and worshiped as a Saint, 

That takes away by any secret course 

I For the voicing of final t and the unvoicing of final d (in disyllabic words) see 
EDGr §§292, 303 


Thy hatefull life 

CONSTANCE O lawfull let It be 
That I have roome with Rome to curse a while, 

Good Father Cardmall, cry thou Amen 
To my keene curses ^ for without my wrong 
There is no tongue hath power to curse him right 
PANDULPH There’s Law and Warrant (Lady) for my curse 

Similarly m LLL 4 3 1-2 


'"An unescapable pun,” ® found, e g , in 1H4 i 3 254-5 

And gentle Harry Percy, and kinde Cousin 
O, the Divell take such Couseners, God forgive me 

Other instances are MWW 4 5 79, R3 4 4 223, TNK 3 i 43-4 

Crewel-Cruel, L 2 4 7 

On seeing Kent in the stocks, the Fool exclaims 
Hah, ha, he weares Cruell Garters 

Dam-Damn, MV 3 i 34-5 

soLANio and then it is the complexion of them al to leave 
the dam 

SHYLOCK She IS damned for it 
Similarly m CE 4351-4 

Date-Date, AW i i 172-4 

Your Date is better in your Pye and your Porredge, then in your 

Similarly m TC i 2 279-81 


This IS one of the stock puns in Shakespeare,® used, e g , with grim 
effect in M 4 3 205 if 

ROSS To relate the manner 

2 Kittredge, p 557 , Lyly has the same pun m Gallathea 5 i 70 ff and Mother Bom- 
bte 5 3 324 f 

3 Lyly has it in Gallathea 2 1 40 ff 



Were on the Quarry of these murther’d Deere 
To adde the death of you 

Similarly the Prince, on sp3ang Falstaff on the ground, says (1H4 


Death hath not strucke so fat a Deere to day 
Though many dearer in this bloody Fray 

Other typical examples will be found m CE 21 100 f, 1H6 4 2 53f, 
LLL 4 I 34f , 4 I 116, MA i i 127 ff (see hart-heart, below), MWW 
5 S 18 f , 5 S 122 f , TA 3 I 89 ff , TS 42 9-10, 5 2 56, Cy 2 3 75 (see 
staler-stealer, below), and VA 231, 239 


Few have missed the bawdy innuendo of the Fool's parting couplet in 
L I 5 54-5 

She thaf s a Maid now, & laughs at my departure, 

Shall not be a Maid long, unlesse things be cut shorter 

Partridge ^ is doubtless right in his interpretation of things in 1 55, but 
so far no one seems to have understood that there is a play on departer 
'divider,' obviously with the same meaning as quoin in 1H4 i 2 61 (see 
coin-quoin, above) and similar modern slang expressions, for which see 
Farmer-Henley, 5, 289 

Dte-Dye, J 2 i 322-3 

Our lustie English, all with purpled hands, 
Dtde in the dying slaughter of their foes 

See also ace-ass, above 

Dollar— Dolour 

Hodges (1643) couples dollar and dolour as pronounced alike, and 
T 2 I 16 ff has a play on the two words 

GONZALO When every greefe is entertamd 
That's offer’d comes to th’entertainer 
GONZALO Dolour comes to him indeed 

Similarly MM i 2 50 ff 

4 Shakespeare^ s Bawdy, ^ 203 




This triple pun, which is fully explained by Kittredge (p 722), is 
found in R J I 4 39-41 

ROMEO The game was nere so faire, and I am done [dum Q] 

MERCUTio Tut, duns the Mouse, the Constables owne word, 

If thou art dun, week draw thee from the mire. 

Or save your reverence love 


Since h was normally silent in here and my had the weakly stressed 
form [mi], me here and my ear would sound alike as in this passage from 
TS 128-11 

PETRUCHio Villaine I say, knocke me heere soundly 

GRUMio Knocke you here sir ^ Why sir, what am I sir, that I should 
knocke you heere sir 

PETRUCHIO Villame I say, knocke me at this gate 

That Grumio pretended to understand Petruchio in the way just indi- 
cated becomes clear from 11 37-43 of the same scene 

PETRUCHIO I bad the rascall knocke upon your gate, 

And could not get him for my heart to do it 

GRUMIO Knocke at the gate ^ O heavens spake you not these words 
plaine ^ Sirra, Knocke me heere , rappe me heere knocke me well, and 
knocke me soundly^ And come you now with knocking at the gate^ 

Similar punning seems to be resorted to m TS 4 i 62-8, possibly with a 
further play on hear (1 65) 

Ear s-Y ears, CE 4 4 30 f 

DROMio I am an Asse indeede, you may proove it by my long eares 
I have served him from the houre of my Nativitie to this instant 

Cf the colloquial expression for donkey's ears (or years, see OED 
Suppl ) 


The fact that eat and hate were pronounced alike in Elizabethan Eng- 
lish will explain the following passage in TmA 4 3 305 ff ® 

5 See my article “Five Shakespeare Notes,” pp 312! A similar pun on eat and 
hate seems to be used in Lyly^s Endxmion 2 2 66-71 



APEMANTUS There's a medler for thee, eate it 
TiMON On what I hatey I feed not 
APEMANTUS Do’st hate a Medler^ 

TIMON I, though it looke like thee 

The same pun is used in AYL i 3 35 

CELIA yet I hate not Orlando 

ROSALIND No, faith, hate him not for my sake 

CELIA Why should I not^ doth he not deserve well ^ 

Here apparently deserve means not only ‘to merit, be worthy' but also ‘to 
serve, do service' and suggests, moreover, the noun dessert , cf the play 
on he hath done good service in MA i i 49 ff 


When asked by the King where Polomus is, Hamlet answers accord- 
mg to Qi (43 20f ) 

At supper, not where he is eating, but Where he is eaten 

Perhaps the ambiguity of the pronunciation [? tn] was the reason for 
changing eating into eat{e)s\n Qz and F 


This is the Prince's sarcastic aside to Poms regarding Falstaflf m 2H4 
2 4 281-2 

Looke, if [where, Q] the wither'd Elder hath not his Poll claw'd like 
a Parrot 

An Ell-Nelly CE 3 2 111-13 

Asked about the kitchen-maid's name, Dromio answers 

Nell Sir but her name is three quarters, that's an Ell and three quar- 
ters, will not measure her from hip to hip 

English— I ngle-ish 

Pistol's aside to Nym with its C3mical comment on Falstaff's designs on 
Mrs Ford in MWW i 3 50 ff has given rise to much conjecture This is 
the passage 

FALSTAFF I can construe the action of her familier stile, & 
the hardest voice of her behavior (to be englisNd rightly) is, I am sir 
John Falstafs 


PISTOL He hath studied her will and translated her will out of 
honesty, into English 

Most editors emend the first instance of tmll to well, which destroys 
the orthographic indication of the play on the two words (see below), 
the second instance of which must mean "carnal desire* as in RL 247 and 
MM 2 4 164 (cf OED) Pistol’s remark will make sense only if we as- 
sume that he is made to use a forced pun (of the ""country” type discussed 
on pp 71 f , above) on the noun mgle with the addition of the suffix -tsh 
The word ingle had a wider sphere of meaning than is recorded in OED 
as a modish epithet it was applied to both sexes, thus being synonymous 
with minion Two passages in Thomas Dekker’s The Honest Whore, 
Part One, reveal the widening of meaning that had actually taken place 
In Act I, sc 2, Viola advises her brother Fustigo 

Swagger worse than a lieutenant among freshwater soldiers, call me 
your love, your ingle, your cousin, or so , but sister at no hand 

And later, in Act 3, sc i, Fustigo explains to Candido, Viola’s husband, 
why he had called her ""cousin” 

Because it’s a common thing to call coz, and mngle now-a-days all the 
world over 

Eml-lll, 2H4 I 2 i 85-~9 

JUSTICE You follow the yong Piince up and downe, like his evdl 
[ill Q] Angell 

FALSTAFF Not SO (my Lord) your ill Angell is light but I hope, he 
that lookes upon mee, will take mee without, weighing 

Here evill must have been the same monosyllable as in Hamlet’s eale 


Fa-Fay, Re-Ray 

In RJ 4 5 1 2 1-2 Peter uses the syllables Re and Fa of the diatonic scale 
(in Q also sol) as verbs with which to threaten the musicians 

PETER I will cane no Crochets, He Re you, He Fa you, do you 
note me^ 

I MUSICIAN And you Re us, and Fa us, you Note us 

This IS not merely a grotesque threat, as Kittredge (p 755) suggests, but 
a play on the verbs fay ifeigh) "to clean, cleanse, winnow’ and ray "to 
smear, soil, dirty’ (used in that sense in TS 4 i 3) or possibly the dialectal 
ree (spelled ray in the 17th century) "to clean, sift ’ Like the sol-sowl 

io6 Shakespeare’s homonymic puns 

pun discussed below, these two are obviously jocular euphemisms for 
'to beat ’ Perhaps the same puns are intended in TS i 2 17 , see the quota- 
tion under ring-wring^ below 

Fare-Fmr-F ear 

Since these three words were often pronounced alike, it is not surprising 
to find them used in puns , this is the case, e g , in VA 1083-6 

Having no faire to lose, you need not feare 

The sun doth skorne you, & the wind doth kisse you. 

But when Adonis liv’d, sunne, and sharpe aire, 

Lurkt like two theeves to rob him of his faire ® 

Similarly in S 92 13, and probably also in M i 3 51-2 Note also the pun 
on fair (n ) and fair (adj ) in LLL 4 3 235 In LLL i 2 148 f , on the 
other hand, fare and fair are punned on 

ARMADO And so farewell 
JAQUENETTA Faire weather after you 

Fait our s-F eatures 

That some kind of pun is intended m AYL 3 3 3-6 seems certain, but 
It IS hard to tell what associations Touchstone’s feature is supposed to 
evoke in Audrey (and the audience) Touchstone promises to fetch up 
Audrey’s goats and then continues 

Doth my simple feature content you ^ 

AUDREY Your features, Lord warrant us what featmes"^ 

The possibility of a quibble on faitours Villains’ has long been recognized, 
though Kittredge (p 331) discountenances it, saying that Audrey is 
^'merely staggered by her suitor’s elevated diction, which she cannot 
understand,” and adding that “her words are perfectly intelligible when 
the play is acted, and never fail to bring down the house ” This may be 
the case, but the broad comedy would be increased by a pun on faitours, 
or why not on fetters, since Touchstone is to fetch Audrey’s goats ^ On 
the other hand, the singular form feature, meaning 'shape, proportions’ 
rather than 'features,* may have some obscene implication 

6 Cf Lyly, Sapho and Phao 2 i 5-6 **thou art faire faire ^ I feare me faire be a 
word too foule for a face so passing fayre,” and Gallathea i 3 i '"Come Phillida, faire 
Phillida, and I feare me too faire ** 




An explanation of the legal phrase fine and recovery and a reference 
to Shakespeare’s baldness have so far been held satisfactory for the under- 
standing of this passage in CE 2 2 73 ff 

DROMio There’s no time for a man to recover his haire that growes 
bald by nature 

ANTiPHOLUS May he not doe it by fine and recoverie ^ 

DROMIO Yes, to pay a fine for a perewig, and recover the lost haire 
of another man 

Yet its humorous effect is completely lost to a modern reader or listener 
who does not realize that Antipholus is punning on fine and join ‘fur (of 
polecat),’ used for trimming gowns, etc, and on recover {y) and re- 


Salerio, knowing the misfortunes that have befallen Antonio, puns 
grimly on fleece and fleets, while Bassanio is reading the letter confirming 
the failure of his ventures (MV 3 2 241--2) 

GRATiANO We are the Jasons, we have won the fleece 
SALERIO I would you had won the fleece that hee hath lost 


In The Writing Scholar’s Companion (1695) flower- flour- floor are 
listed as homonyms, and so they were undoubtedly in the speech of many 
Elizabethans Though there is no unambiguous instance of a pun flower- 
floor in Shakespeare, yet Mercutio’s following up of Romeo’s play on 
pink(ed) and well flowr’d in RJ 2 4 61 ff may imply that he took the lat- 
ter expression in the sense well-floored 

MERCUTio Nay, I am the very pmck of curtesie 
ROMEO Pinke for flower 

ROMEO Why then is my Pump well flowr’d 

MERCUTIO Sure wit, follow me this jeast, now till thou hast 
worne out thy Pump, that when the single sole of it is worne, the 
jeast may remaine after the wearing, sole-singular 

Note that well-floored appears as well flowred in 1555 (OED) 

io8 Shakespeare’s homonymic puns 


Returning to the Garter after his ducking in the Thames, Falstaff is 
approached by Mrs Quickly, who wishes to unburden herself of a mes- 
sage from Mrs Ford, he then exclaims (MWW 3 5 36 if ) 

Mist Ford ^ I have had Ford enough I was thrown into the Ford , 
I have my belly full of Ford 

For the understanding of these lines it is immaterial where and how 
the ducking took place ^ Falstaff ’s grim joke at his own expense suggests, 
however, that he may have pronounced Ford almost like jood, that is 
[fu (j)d], with a very weak r If so^ the same wordplay is perhaps in- 
tended in MWW I 3 38 f 


In Berowne’s line (LLL 5 2 380) 

I am a fooUj and full of povertie 

there is clearly a pun on the two words, as in the immediately following 
dialogue between him and Rosaline (11 383-4) 

BEROWNE O, I am yours, and all that I possesse. 

ROSALINE All the foole mine 

BEROWNE I cannot give you lesse 

A similar pun occurs m AW 4 3 238 and in TC 5 i 10 

Form— Form 

Some early orthoepists distinguish between form 'bench’ and form 
'fashion,’ pronouncing the former with [0 ] and the latter with [o ] or 
[d] , but this was apparently not Shakespeare’s usage, for he puns on the 
two meanings in LLL i i 207 

CLOWN In manner and forme following sir all those three I was 
seene with her in the Manner house, sitting with her upon the Forme, 
and taken following her into the Parke which put to gether, is m 
manner and forme following Now sir for the manner , It is the man- 
ner of a man to speake to a woman, for the forme in some forme 

Similarly in RJ 2 4 35 Hodges (1643) gives farm, "a form of words” and 
"a fourm to sit upon” as homonyms, whereas The Writing Scholar's Com- 
panion (1695) couples only the last two 

7 For that problem see Crofts, pp 80 ff 



Foul-^Fowl, MWW 5 s 11-12 

PALSTAFF and then another fault, m the semblance of a 
Fowle^ thinke on’t (Jove) a /owk-fault 

Gait-Gate, TN 3 i 92 ff 
TOBY I meane to go sir, to enter 

VIOLA I will answer you with gate and entrance, but we are pre- 

Gaunt-Gaunt, R221 73-83 

GAUNT Oh how that name befits my composition 
Old Gaunt indeed, and gaunt in being old 
Within me greefe hath kept a tedious fast. 

And who abstaynes from meate, that is not gaunt ^ 

For sleeping England long time have I watcht. 

Watching breeds leannesse, leannesse is all gaunt 
The pleasure that some Fathers feede upon, 

Is my strict^fast, I meane my Childrens lookes. 

And therein fasting, hast thou made me gaunt 
Gaunt am I for the grave, gaunt as a grave, 

Whose hollow wombe inherits naught but bones 

Similarly in 2H4 3 2 349 

Gentile-Gentle, MV 2651 
GRATiANO Now by my hood, a gentle, and no Jew 

Similarly in MV 4 i 34 Butler (1634) lists gentile and gentle as homo- 

Gilt-Guilt, H5 2pr26 
Have for the Gilt of France (O guilt indeed) 

Similarly gild-guilt in 2H4 4 5 129 and M 2 2 56 f ® 


Instead of our present [ 0 ] m Goth, which is a spelling-pronunciation, 
the Elizabethans had [t], thus pronouncing Goth and goat alike or very 
nearly so (see pp 234, 300, below) Touchstone puns on the two words 
in A YL 3 3 7 if 

8 Also Lyly, Mtdas 32124 ff 



I am heere with thee, and thy Goats, as the most capricious Poet 
honest Ovid was among the Gothes 

The same pun is doubtless intended in TA 2 3 109 f 


There is some orthoepistic evidence for a common pronunciation of 
grace and grass (see p 176, below) to substantiate the following pun in 
AW 4 S 17 if 

CLOWN Indeed sir she was the sweete Margerom of the sallet, or 
rather the hearbe of grace 

LAFEW They are not hearbes you knave, they are nose-hearbes 

CLOWN I am no great Nabuchadnezar sir, I have not much skill in 

In CE 3 2 97 Dromio of Syracuse is punning on grease and grace 
Marry sir, she’s the Kitchin wench, & al grease 

Grave-Grave, R J 3 i ioi~2 

MERCUTio aske for me to morrow, and you shall find me a 
grave man 

Similarly C 2 i 67 f 


'"An admirable example of the Elizabethan habit of punning, even in 
the most serious discourse,’* is Kittredge’s comment (p 759) on the words 
of the Chief Watch in RJ 53 179--81 

We see the ground whereon these woes do lye, 

But the true ground of all these piteous woes. 

We cannot without circumstance descry 


Theseus’ flippant remark following the Schoolmaster’s greeting shows 
how he chose to interpret the word hail (TNK 3 5 loo-i) 

SCHOOLMASTER Thou doughtie Duke all hade all hade sweet Ladies 
THESEUS This is a cold beginning 

Similarly LLL 5 2 339 f 



Hair-H eir-H er e-Hare 

Since these four words were often pronounced alike, they readily lent 
themselves to quibbling In CE 3 2 i2t; ff hair and heir are so used 

ANTiPHOLus Where France^ 

DROMio In her forhead, arm^d and reverted, making warre against 
her heire 

Similarly M 5 8 48 

In 1H4 I 2 64 f Falstaff puns on heir and here 

Yea, and so us’d it, that were it heere apparant, that you art Heire 
ap par ant 

And he repeats the joke in 1H4 2246! Later m the same play 
(2 4 481 ff ) It is the Prince who echoes Falstaff’s hare by here ® 

FALSTAFF Hang me up by the heeles for a Rabbet- Sucker, or a 
Poulters Hare 

PRINCE Well, heere I am set 
FALSTAFF And heere I stand 

Hair and hare were likewise homonyms,^ but the pun in TGV 
3 I 189-92 IS not apparent unless we know that soho was a call used by 
huntsmen to direct the attention of the dogs or of other hunters to a hare 
which had been discovered or started (OED) ^ 

LAUNCE So-hough, Soa hough — 

PROTEUS What seest thou ^ 

LAUNCE Him we goe to finde, 

There’s not a haire on’s head, but t’ls a Valentine 


Several editors have suggested, and rightly so, I think, that there is a 
pun on halloa (or hallow) and hallow in 2H4 i 2 212 f 

For my voice, I have lost it with hallowing and singing of An- 

Similarly, perhaps, in TN i 5 291 

9 Lyly puns on ear and hair in Midas 4 1 174 f “having here the eares of an asse, 
it will there be told, all my haires are asses eares,” and on hear and hair in Mother 
Bombie 1 1 51-2 “I see through your brames, your haire is so thin, and your scull 
so transparant I may sooner see it than heare it ” 

1 Dekker, The Shoemakers' Holiday 3 4 51-3, has a similar pun on hair and hare 

2 Cf this entry in Promptormm parmlorum (1440) “Sohowe, the hare is founde 
boema, lepus est inventus” (OED) 



Hard-Heard, TS 2 i 184 fF 

KATHERiNA Well have you heard, but something hard of hearing 
They call me Katerme, that do talke of me 


'This pun no Elizabethan author could withstand,” says Kittredge 
(p 831) and quotes an elaborate example from Dekker’s The Shoe- 
makers' Holiday apropos of the following instance in JC 3 i 207 f 

O World ^ thou wast the Forrest to this Hart, 

And this indeed, O World, the Hart of thee 

Shakespeare runs it hard in AYL 3 3 48 fF , where Touchstone says 

Amen A man may if he were of a fearful heart, stagger m this 
attempt, for heere wee have no Temple but the wood, no assembly but 

Similarly in MA 1 1 127 fF , with a further pun on suitor-shooter (see 
p 14s, below) 

BENEDICK I would I could finde in my heart that I had not a hard 
heart, for truely I love none 

BEATRICE A deere happmesse to women, they would else have beene 
troubled with a pernitious Suter 

Other such cases are AYL 3 2 260, MWW i i 86, TN 4 i 63, and prob- 
ably also CE 3 2 62 and Cy S 3 24 

Haud credo-Old grey doe ( 

In the TLS, July 18, 1952 (p 469), A L Rowse made the interesting 
suggestion that Dull, LLL 4221!, takes Holofernes’ pompous haud 
credo for " ’awd grey doe This is the passage (11 9-21 ) 

NATHANIEL I assure ye, it was a Bucke of the First head 

HOLOFERNEs Sir Nathaniel, haud credo 

DULL Twas not a haud credo, 'twas a Pricket 

HOLOFERNES to insert againe my haud credo for a Deare 

DULL I said the Deare was not a haud credo, ^twas a Pricket 

Such an interpretation, which seems contextually plausible, depends 
on how Holofernes pronounced his Latin That Dull may have taken the 
final syllable of credo, [do], for doe [do ] is highly probable — cf the 
Clown’s argali for ergo H 5 1 13 fF —but unless Holofernes used the Con- 


tmental [e ] for Latin i m credo instead of the normal English vowel [i ], 
he could hardly have heard credo as [gre do ] , only a dialectal [gri ] 
for grey, as m Wa, would be close enough for credo [kri do] to be under- 
stood as [gri do ] On the other hand, [ho d] for haud would probably 
have sounded like [o d] for old with dialectal or vulgar loss of I , again, if 
Holofernes used the Continental [au] in haud, the Latin word may have 
suggested to Dull a dialectal [aud] or [oud] ior old For the pronunciation 
of Latin in i6th- and 17th-century England see C G Moore Smith, pp 
167 ff 


The old stressed form of have, which survives in behave, had the same 
pronunciation as heave, that is [h^ v], and there is almost certainly a pun 
on the two words in CE 3 2 81-9, quoted under abased-a beast on p 88, 
above , with Dromio’s words ‘'she would have me as a beast'' compare per- 
haps Oil 117-18 The same pun may be intended in 1H4 3 3 145 


Both were commonly pronounced with a long vowel, [? ] , a fact that 
explains Imogen’s biblical pun ® in Cy 3 2 62 f 

Tell me how Wales was made so happy, as 
T’lnhente such a Haven 

In R2 I 3 275 f (Q) Gaunt plays on the same words 

All places that the eie of heaven visits. 

Are to a wise man portes and happie havens 


The asseveration by my heele m RJ 3 i 38 f has been interpreted as a 
scornful oath to be compared with such Shakespearean phrases as “I 
scorn that with my heels” (MA 3 4 50! ) and “scorn running with thy 
heels” (MV 2 2 9 f ) ^ This is most unlikely, since scorn does not appear 
in the RJ line, and, moreover, heele is in the singular What we have here 
IS a play on heal ‘health, welfare, salvation’ 

BENVOLio By my head here comes the Capulets 
MERCUTio By my heele I care not 

3 For a full discussion see '*Five Shakespeare Notes,” pp 313 f 

4 Kittredge, p 741 



Hem-^H tm 

The following exchange of witticisms appears m AYL i 3 18-20 with 
reference to the '‘burrs” in Rosalind’s heart 

CELIA Hem them away 

ROSALIND I would try if I could cry hemf and have him 

Kittredge (p 31 1) is doubtless right in saying that "the emphasis is on 
the indistinct sound {h'm) and on have — ^not on hem and him, as genera- 
tions of actresses have read the line ” But I am not convinced that his 
interpretation of Rosalind’s line is to the point , the meaning of cry seems 
to be either 'to proclaim’ or 'call for/ perhaps even 'to proclaim the mar- 
riage banns of/ but not "could win him by such a slight effort” as Kit- 
tredge suggests (ihd ) 

Hte-High, RJ 2 5 79-80 

NURSE Go He to dinner, hie you to the Cell 
JULIET Hie to high Fortune, honest Nurse, farewell 


An obvious pun on land 'servant’ and hind 'deer,’ with a subsidiary play 
on heart and hart, occurs in RJ 1 1 73 

What art thou drawne, among these heartlesse {hartlesse Q2) 
hindes ^ 


It is difficult to decide in the first place whether there is any pun at all 
in 2H4 2 4 188-92 and, secondly, if there is, what its exact nature was 

PISTOL Die men, like Dogges, give Crownes like Pinnes Have 
we not Hiren here^ 

HOSTESS On my word (Captaine) there’s none such here What 
the good-yere, doe you thinke I would denye her ^ 

According to OED, hiren, "a corruption of the female name Irene, F 
Irhne,'* was the name of a female character in Peek’s lost play The Turkish 
Mohamet and Hyrm the Fair Greek, which was used allusively by Shake- 
speare and early 17th-century writers as meaning 'a seductive woman, a 
harlot ’ Admittedly Mrs Qtuckly’s reply seems to suggest that she under- 
stood Hiren in that way If so we must assume that in the short space of 
perhaps three or four years between Peek’s play and Shakespeare’s Hyrin 



could have degenerated so rapidly in meaning as to become a current 
synon3nn of ‘harlot " The spellings Hynn, Htren, on the other hand, reveal 
a contemporary colloquial pronunciation [(h)9ir9n], itself an indication 
that Irene was in actual use as early as that ® For this reason it would be 
more plausible to assume that the Hostess understood Pistol to ask for a 
girl called Irene 

Yet It is worth mentioning that ‘to hire a hackney (= prostitute)' 
was a 1 6th- and 17th-century colloquialism (see hackney, OED) and that 
consequently Htren may have been taken by the Hostess as hiring , cf 
“Thither went I, and bouldlie made enquire / If they had hackneis to 
lett-out to hire" (Nashe, The Chois e of Valentines, 11 25-6) 


The juxtaposition of stale, which as a noun meant ‘prostitute,' and hoar 
m RJ 2 4 138 ff , as well as the occurrence of hoar ® in Mercutio's song 
immediately following, and his previous reference to the Nurse as a bawd 
(1 136) make such a pun seem inevitable 

No Hare sir, unlesse a Hare sir in a Lenten pie, that is something 
stale and hoare ere it be spent 


In Hodges' A Special Help to Orthographic (1643) P ^3 we come 
across this exercise to teach the spelling of three everyday words, appar- 
ently homonyms then (disregarding the fact that the first ends m [z] and 
the last two in [s]) “The beadle that whipt the whores, beemg very 
hoarse, when he went away he rode upon a horse " The identity or close 
similarity of their vowel sounds must have been characteristic of Shake- 
speare's pronunciation too, for he puns on horse and whores in 1H4 
3 3 208 ff 

PRINCE I have procured thee Jacke, a Charge of Foot 

FALSTAFF I would it had beene of Horse Where shal I finde one 
that can steale well ^ O, for a fine theefe of two and twentie, or there- 
about I am heynously unprovided 

The word steale here admits of several associations which together with 
the pun thief-theave (see below) support and develop the first wordplay 
a whoi ^ is a stale who may steal and stale well, whereas a horse will of 

5 Withycombe, p 155, errs in saying that the name first appears in England c 1880 

6 There is absolutely no evidence for Partridge^s conjecture that hare m this 
quotation means ‘prostitute* {Shakespeare* s Bawdy, p 125) 

Shakespeare’s homonymic puns 


course, stale at times but hardly steal Other instances of this pun may 
occur in CE 3 2 86 and TGV 3 i 265 ® 

A pun hoarse-horse seems to be used m AYL 5 3 ii~i6 

1 PAGE Shal we clap into’t roundly, without hauking or spitting 
or saying we are hoarse, which are the onely prologues to a bad voice 

2 PAGE I faith, y’faith, and both in a tune like two gipsies on a 

Hold--H ole, 2H4 pr 35 

The context favors such a pun, as does the F spelling hole 

And this Worme-eaten-iJoZ^ of ragged Stone, 

Where Hotspurres Father, old Northumberland, 

Lyes crafty sicke 

Hole-Whole-Wholesome, Holey-H oly-Wholly 

These are almost exclusively used for bawdy puns, as this passage 
from RJ 2 4 95 ff clearly shows 

MERCUTio for this driveling Love is like a great Naturall, 
that runs lolling up and downe to hid his bable in a hole 
BENvoLio Stop there, stop there 

MERCUTIO Thou desir^st me to stop in my tale against the haii e 
BENVOLIO Thou would’st else have made thy tale large 
MERCUTIO O thou art deceived, I would have made it short, or I 
was come to the tvhole depth of my tale, and meant indeed to occupie 
the argument no longer 

For the pun tale— tail here see below, and for occupy in the sense ‘to cohabit’ 
see OED, a meaning referred to by Doll Tearsheet in 2H4 2 4 162 f (Q) 

‘ Gods light these villaines wil make the word as odious as the word 
occupy, which was an excellent good worde before it was ill sorted ” 

The same double-entendre may be intended in S 134 14, while in CE 
2 I 78-80 we have a harmless pun on holy and holey 

ADRIANA Backe slave, or I will breake thy pate a-crosse 
DROMio And he will blesse that crosse with other beating 
Betweene you, I shall have a holy head 

7 See my article “Thief and Stealer ” 

8 The very same phrase team of horse is similarly used in Dekker, The Honest 
Whore, Pt II, 4.3 **So this is for the bawd, the rogue, the whore Carolo An ex- 
cellent team of horse 



But Margaret's use of holy in MA 3 4 80 ® and the Clown's in AW i 3 34 f 
decidedly belong in the former category So does wholly AC i 2 182, 
whereas wholesome Cy i 2 4 must refer both to hole ‘anus' and to a hole 
torn m Cloten's shirt and breeches (see sacnfice-fise, below) A similar 
pun on hole and Holland (probably pronounced with [o ] for the sake of 
the pun) occurs in the Prince’s gibe at Falstaff m 2H4 2 2 24 f 

the rest of thy Low Countries, have made a shift to eate up thy 

Note the semantic quibble involving shijt and Holland , for Low Countries 
country matters,!^ 71, above 

Holp-H ope, TA 4 4 59 f 

SATURNius Sly franticke wretch, that holp*st to make me great, 

In hope thy selfe should governe Rome and me 

H our-W hore-O'er 

A clever pun on hour and whore occurs in AYL 2 7 26 ff where 
Jaques laughingly quotes Touchstone 

And so from houre to houre, we ripe, and ripe. 

And then from houre to houre, we rot, and rot. 

And thereby hangs a tale 

This passage has two subsidiary puns, tale-tail and npe-ripe (see below) 
The same pun is used in CE 4 2 53 ff 

DROMio ’tis time that I were gone 
It was two ere I left him, and now the clocke strikes one 
ADRIANA The houres come backe, that did I never here 
DROMio Oh yes, if any houre meete a Serjeant, a turnes backe for 
verie feare 

ADRIANA As if time were m debt how fondly do'st thou reason? 
DROMIO Time is a verie bankerout, and owes more then he's worth 
to season 

Nay, he's a theefe too have you not heard men say, 

That time comes stealing on by night and day? 

If I be in debt and theft, and a Serjeant in the way, 

Hath he not reason to turne backe an houre in a day ? 

In MWW 2 2 38 ff Falstaff chooses to interpret Mrs Quickly in his 
own way 

9 For the meaning of thistle here see Partridge, Shakespeare*s Bawdy, pp 172, 203 
X See pp 58 f , above, and RES, 19 (1943)1 357 fiP 



HOSTESS He be swome, 

As my mother was the first houre I was borne 
FALSTAFF I doe belccve the swearer 

Very likely the same pun is intended in MA i i 276 

The occurrence of hour and o'er in the same line of Proteus' speech 
(TGV 229) may be accidental, but it may equally well be due to inten- 
tional quibbling 

And when that howre or^-slips me in the day 

Though a disyllabic pronunciation of Jaques is indicated by the meter 
of AYL 2 I 26 and AW 344, the common colloquial form then as now 
was doubtless a monosyllable pronounced like ]akes This variant is re- 
ported by Hodges (1643), who illustrates it by this sentence '‘Let the 
house bee made a ]akes, for Mr Jaques" Considerably earlier Sir John 
Hanngton relates ^ the amusing anecdote of the prim gentlewoman, who, 
having to announce Mr Jaques Wingfield to her ladyship, blushmgly said 
that It was Mr Privy Wingfield It is this monosyllabic pronunciation of 
Jaques that must have prompted Touchstone's otherwise cryptic greeting 
of Jaques in AYL 3 3 74 f 

Good even good Mr what ye caVt how do you 
Sir, you are verie well met 

In no modern edition of the play have I come across an attempt to explain 
what ye cal't, a phrase that Shakespeare's audience could never fail to 

Jupiter— Gibbeter 

From the Clown's reply to Titus in TA 4 3 79-85 it is clear that he 
understood Jupiter as gibheter, a word unrecorded in OED but quite a 
natural formation 

TITUS what sayes Jupiter^ 

CLOWN Ho the Jibbetmaker, he sayes that he hath taken them 
downe againe, for the man must not be hang’d till the next weeke 
TITUS But what sayes Jupiter I aske thee ^ 

CLOWN Alas sir I know not Jupiter I never dranke with him in all 
my life 

2 The Metamorphosis of Ajax, p 17, first published m 1596 


Note that Q spells the name Jubiter, which comes even closer to gibbet er 
than the F form ® 

Keys-Qui's, Case-Quae*s, Cods-Quod's 

Even if Elizabethan Latinists may not always have pronounced Lat qu 
as k, this was undoubtedly the sound used by Parson Evans (MWW 41) 
in agreement with continental usage Much of the bawdy double talk of 
that scene, which so far seems to have escaped notice, hinges upon such 
a pronunciation of Lat qu and to no small extent on the Welshman’s lin- 
guistic idiosyncrasies Thus m the following passage (11 76-81) qui*Sj 
quae*s, quod's must have been pronounced like keys, case, cods,^ for the 
sexual connotations of which see Farmer-Henley 

EVANS Shew me now (William) some declensions of your Pro- 

WILLIAM Forsooth, I have forgot 

EVANS It is Qut, qiie, quod , if you forget your Quies, your Ques, 
and your Quods, you must be preeches 

The word case itself, with its convenient double meaning, is fully ex- 
ploited for quibbling purposes in the same scene, 11 52-72, e g , Evans’ 
mispronunciation of vocative case (see p 74, above) and Mrs Quickly’s 
misunderstanding of Genitive case 

’Vengeance on Gineys case, fie on her, never name her (childe) if 
she be a whore 

Elsewhere, too, Shakespeare uses the word for coarse double-entendre, 
as in AW i 3 23-8, Cy 2 3 80, 2H4 2 i 33,® RJ 2 4 54-7, 3 3 84-90 


A dialectal form of the plural kine, either keen or, perhaps, a variant 
with shortened vowel, kin, was probably used by the Prince in 2H4 
2 2 168 ff to pun on km 

3 It has been suggested (see Rolfe’s ed of TA, p 159) that the Clown understood 
Jupiter as Jew Peter, but this is incompatible with his first answer, where jtbbetmaker 
plainly indicates his apprehension of the name , in his second answer such an interpre- 
tation IS not impossible, though one would have expected it to be shown by the spelling 
of the name 

4 See further p 331, below Shakespeare apparently knew two pronunciations of 
key, one with [1 ] as in modern St E and the other with [^ ] , see p 178, below In 
Eastward Ho • we find a pun on ka me, ka thee-key-k (22 20-2) 

5 Almost the same pun occurs in Dekker, The Shoemaker^ Holiday 3 4ii8ff 
(Brooke-Paradise, p 278) , similarly in The Honest Whore, Pt II, 42 



PRINCE What Pagan may that be^ 

PAGE A proper Gentlewoman, Sir, and a Kinsworazn of my Masters 
PRINCE Even such ktn, as the Parish Heyfors are to the Towne- 
BulP Shall we steale upon them (Ned) at Supper^ 


In spite of Bradley’s categorical statement that no one m Shakespeare’s 
time would have made a pun on knight and night, Shakespeare did pun on 
these very words (see below) and other similar pairs having initial kn 
and n That knack ‘deceitful trick’ could be pronounced like neck is re- 
vealed by the spelling neck from about 1540 (OED) Such a form is, 
moreover, essential for the full understanding of the Clown’s last words 
in TA 4 4 48 f with their grim play on knack and neck 

Hang’d^ ber Lady, then I have brought up a neck to a faire end 


Hearing Falstaff’s scurrilous characterization of Poms and himself, the 
Prince whispers to Poms, 2H4 2 4 278 f 

Would not this Nave of a Wheele have his Eares cut off ^ 

There may be a scornful reference to Sir John’s rotundity m the 
Prince’s use of wheel here (VarEd , p 200), but he may also be alluding 
to the greasmess of the {k)nave For an alternative explanation of wheel 
see below, wheal-wheel 

The knave-nave pun is probably used also in 2H4 2 i 41 (see rung- 
wrong, below) , but I am hesitant about AC 5 2 3 f 


Since the term squire of the body referred to the personal attendant on 
a knight or other dignitary, Falstaff’s use of the phrase in 1H4 i 2 26 ff 
must involve a pun on knight and night ® 

Marry then, sweet Wagge, when thou art King, let not us that are 
Squires of the Nights bodie, bee call'd Theeves of the Dayes beautie 

Moreover, it seems far from unlikely that Juliet, who at the end of 
Act 3, sc 2, calls Romeo her “true knight,” is punning on knight and night 

6 There is an obvious pun on kmghi and mght in Dekker, The Honest Whore, 
Pt I, 2 1 , where Bellafront exclaims "1 hate to wear out any of his coarse knight- 
hood, because he’s made like an alderman’s mght-gown ” 


in her soliloquy at the beginning of the same scene, especially in 11 17 
and 20 


There is most certainly a pun on Noh, a hypocoristic form of Robert, 
and knob ‘bump, pimple’ in J i i 147, where Philip the Bastard winds up 
his uncomplimentary remarks on his half-brother Robert Faulconbndge 
in these words 

I [it, F] would not be sir nobbe m any case 
Note the same use of quat ‘pimple’ O 5 i ii 


When Lafew says that marjoram and herb-grace are not hearhes (AW 
4 5 19 , see the quotation under grace-grass, above), he is doubtless quib- 
bling on knot ‘flower-bed ’ ^ Some editors, including Kittredge, emend 
the F reading to not sollet herbs, which besides destroying the jest pays 
little heed to the fact that marjoram and herb-grace were used both in 
cooking and for medicinal purposes 

In the same play, 3 2 23 f , we come across a pun on knot ‘bond of wed- 

I have wedded her, not bedded her, and sworne to make the not 

Again m AW 5 3 248, where Parolles says enigmatically, 

He lov’d her sir, and lov’d her not, 

we may have a third pun on knot, unless Parolles is merely playing on 
two connotations of love However, knot may here have the meaning 
‘maidenhead,’ as it clearly has in mrgtn knot T41 15, P42 160 

Finally I strongly suspect that there is intentional grim irony in 
Capulet’s use of knot ‘bond of wedlock’ in RJ 4 2 23 f 

Send for the Countie, goe tell him of this. 

He have this knot knit up to morrow morning 


The first and so far as I know the only one to notice this pun was 
Zachrisson, who made a good case for it in his study on William Bullokar’s 

7 Cf Marston, The Malcontent, Ind 106-8 “only as your sallet to your great 
feast, to entertain a little more time, and to abridge the »ot-received custom of music 
m our theatre ** 



pronunciation (pp io8 f ) ® As a matter of fact, the farce of the whole 
passage (MA 42 23 ff ) hinges on the identical pronunciation of known 
and none as [no n] 

DOGBERRY maisters, it is proved alreadie that you are little bet- 
ter than fahe knaves, and it will goe neere to be thought so shortly, 
how answer you for your selves ^ 

CONRADE Marry sir, we say we are none 

DOGBERRY A marvellous witty fellow I assure you, but I will goe 
about with him come you hither sirra, a word in your eare sir, I 
say to you, it is thought that you are false knaves 
BORACHio Sir, I say to you, we are none 

DOGBERRY Well, Stand aside, ’fore God they are both in a tale have 
you writ downe that they are none 

L-Y ell, Sore L-Sorrel, More L-Moral 

In Holofernes’ ‘‘epitaph on the death of the deer” m LLL 4 2 58-63 we 
have some involved but nevertheless pretty obvious punning on L, appar- 
ently pronounced with a prosthetic [j], yell, and once used as the Latin 
numeral of 50 

The pra3dull Princesse pearst and prickt 
a prettie pleasing Pricket, 

Some say a Sore, but not a sore, 
till now made sore with shooting 
The Dogges did yell, put ell to Sore, 
then Sorell jumps from thicket. 

Or PnckeWorff, or else Sorell, 
the people fall a hooting 
If Sore be sore, then ell to Sore 
makes fiftie sores O sorell 
Of one sore I an hundred make 
by adding but one more L 

The obvious pun on sorrel ‘a buck of the third year’ is perhaps reinforced 
by another on sorrel, a plant used for medicinal purposes (see OED), or 
by one involving a dialectal form of ale, pronounced ell or yell The F 
and Q readings 0 sorell and 0 sorell should be interpreted as o' sorrel, 
as done by Warburton and Johnson ® The regular modern emendation of 

8 See also Mather Flint, p 142 Kittredge, p 136, completely misses the point 

9 VarEd , p 144 A similar type of pun occurs in Lyly, Mother Bombie 2 1 98-9 
*‘Cum mala per longas invaluire moras So you see the least asse is the more asse ” 


0 to one has no textual authority to support it, nor does it improve the 
sense of the line 

Laaes-LaceSy 2H6 4 2 47-9 
CADE My wife descended from the Lacies 

BUTCHER She was indeed a Pedlers daughter, & sold many Laces 
Lawyer-Lower y Cy 2 3 7S-80 

CLOTEN I will make 

One of her women Lawyer to me, for 
I yet not understand the case myself 

For an explanation of this pun see my article “Thief and Stealer” and p 
148, below Note that lawyer appears without its y in lawers RJ i 4 73 
(Q) , see also p 310, below For the double meaning of understand com- 
pare TGV 2 5 27, “My staffe understands me,” and the immediately pre- 
ceding and following dialogue between Speed and Launce 

Lead (n )-Led, 1H4 5 3 34-7 

FALSTAFF I am as hot as molten Lead, and as heavie too 
heaven keepe Lead out of mee, I neede no more weight then mine 
owne Bowelles I have led my rag of Muffins where they are peppered 


The earlier form of leash (< OF lessCy laisse) was les{e), lease 
(OED), and Butler (1634) gives lease and leash as homonyms, as does 
The Writing Scholar's Companion (1695) It seems reasonable, there- 
fore, to suggest that we have a play on the two words in TGV 5 2 29 

PROTEUS That they are out by Lease 

Considering the bawdy connotations of nutmeg and cloven, for which 
see Farmer-Henley, a pun on leman and lemon is what we should expect 
in LLL 5 2 651 ff 

ARMADo gave Hector a gift 
DUMAiN A gilt Nutmegge 
LONGA viLLE Stucke With Cloves 
DUMAIN No cloven 




The possibility of a pun on littered and lettered should perhaps be 
reckoned with in WT 4 3 24-5,^ where Autolycus explains 

My Father namM me Autolicus, who being (as I am) ly tier'd 
under Mercune, was likewise a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles 

The same kind of pun may be intended in TGV i i 125-31 (note particu- 
larly the frequent use of bear and pains in that passage) and in TGV 
2 I 165-9 

Lie-Lie- -ly-Lye 

Of the numerous puns on he (< OE hcgan), he (< OE leogan, lyge), 
the suffix -ly (its unreduced form), and lye, the following series from 
MND 2 2 43-4, 51-S IS the best example 

HERMiA Nay good Lysander, for my sake my deeie 
Lie further off yet, doe not lie so neere 


Then by your side, no bed-roome me deny, 

For lying so, Hermia, I doe not lye 

HERMIA Lysander riddles very prettiZy, 

Now much beshrew my manners and my pride. 

If Hermia meant to say, Lysander lied 

Other instances will be found m C2168, H 5ii3iff, O 34iff, 
41 35ff , R3 II 115, RJ I4 5if, T 3222, TC I 2 283ff , 21 io8f, 
TGV I 2 76 ff , i 2 133, TN 3 2 49 f , WT 4 4 744 ff In M 2 3 40 ff there 
seems to be a pun on lye "chamber-lye ’ 

Note further that Mrs Quickly ’s name is a pun on he and -ly (see also 
pp 219 f, below) 

Lief-Live, JC i 2 95 
I had as hefe not be, as live to be 

Commenting on this line, Kittredge (p 807) remarks that "‘the adjective 
lief IS often spelled Iwe or heve,** without however expressly stating that 
there is a homonymic pun here 

I Theobald^s emendation ‘*nam*d me Autolicus, being litter’d under Mercury, who, 
as I am, was” ( VarEd , p 167) destroys the meaning of the text, since Shakespeare’s 
Autolycus was not the son of Mercury but merely named after his son 



Ltnd-^Ltne, T 4 1 235-40 

STEPHANO Be you quiet (Monster) Mistns line, is not this my 
Jerkin^ now is the Jerkin under the Ime now Jerkin you are like to 
lose your haire, & prove a bald Jerkin 
TRiNCULO Doe, doe , we steale by lyne and levell, and^t like your 

For an explanation of this pun see Kittredge, p 66 


Since these words were homonyms, pronounced approximately [bin], 
there may be an intentional ambiguity in the use of loins m RJ pr 5-6 

From forth the fatall loynes of these two foes, 

A paire of starre-crost lovers, take their life 


The possibility of a pun on loose 'to let fly* and lose should probably be 
admitted in TS 2 i 221-4, where, after having been struck by Katherina, 
Petruchio threatens 

I sweare He cuffe you, if you strike againe 
KATHERINA So may you loose your armes. 

If you strike me, you are no Gentleman, 

And if no Gentleman, why then no armes 

We may compare the intransitive use of loose, with the same meamng, in 
Ben Jonson's Sejanus "Nor must he looke at what, or whom to strike, / 
But loose at all” (OED) Note above the subsidiary pun on arms and 

On the other hand, I doubt whether this pun loose-lose occurs in LLL 
4 3 72“3> as suggested in the CaEd 


Dromio may be punning on loose and Luce when he shouts from within, 
CE 3 I 53 

If thy name be called Luce, Luce thou has answer’d him well 

To the broken English of the Welshman Evans must be ascribed the 
pun on luce and louse m MWW 1 1 15-27, where we seem to have, be- 
sides, a dialectal wordplay on coat and cod (see above) 



SLENDER they may give the dozen white Luces in their Coate 

SHALLOW It IS an olde Coate 

EVANS The dozen white Lowses do become an old Coat well 
It agrees well passant It is a familiar beast to man, and signifies 

SHALLOW The Luce is the fresh-fish, the salt-fish, is an old Coate 

When we call to mind the rhyme rose clothes m H 4 5 52 and the fre- 
quency of such rhymes m 16th-century popular verse, we are not surprised 
to come across a pun of that type in R3 4 4 355 f 

RICHARD Say I her Soveraigne, am her Subject low 

QUEEN But she your Subject, lothes such Soveraignty 

Made-Maid-M ad 

A pun made-^naid is what we should expect in Shakespeare's time, for 
both were pronounced with the same vowel [^ ], but a pun made-mad or 
maid-mad presents certain phonological difficulties, to be discussed below 
(p 164) Nevertheless there is unmistakable evidence of both types of 
pun in Shakespeare, the former in RJ 3 2 132 ff 

Take up those Cordes, poore ropes you are beguil’d, 

Both you and I for Romeo is exild 
He made you for a high-way to my bed. 

But I a Maid, die Matden widowed 

It is very tempting to interpret Maiden widowed as a further quibble on 
maid and widow wed, with and pronounced [on] 

When Malvolio quotes extracts to Olivia from her supposed letter, 
these quotations, followed by Olivia's puzzled interruptions, result in a 
play on made, maid, and probably also mad, TN 3 4 57-61 

MALVOLIO Go too, thou art made, if thou desir’st to be so 

OLIVIA Am I made’^ 

MALVOLIO If not, let me see thee a servant still 

OLIVIA Why this is verie Midsommer wadnesse 

These three words are also punned on in TNK 3 5 72-7, whereas 
Wurth's ® compound verb zmthmade, postulated to pun on with maid in 
MM I 2 92-4, is not only completely unrecorded in English but has no 
analogues to support it It is hard to tell whether mad in WT 3 3 124, 

2 P 125 Lyly puns on made and maiden in Gallathea 5 3 154, and perhaps on maid 
and mad in Mother Bombte 2 3 77 


'"You’re a mad olde man,” which Theobald emended to made, is merely 
a variant spelling of made or a pun on the two words 

M atl-M ale-M eal 

In Macbeth’s compliment to Lady Macbeth (M i 7 72-4), 

Bring forth Men-Children onely 
For thy undaunted Mettle should compose 
Nothing but Males, 

his admiration of her fearless ambition takes the form of a subtle play not 
only on mettle and metal (etymologically the same word) but also, by 
obvious association, on males and ma^ls 

Of a totally different nature is Falstaff’s quibbling on meal and male 
m 2H4 4 3 98 ff 

There's never any of these demure Boyes come to any proofe for 
thinne Drinke doth so over-coole their blood, and making many Fish- 
Meales, that they fall into a kinde of Male Green-sicknesse and then, 
when they marry, they get Wenches 

Male is merely an echo of meales, unless the compound Ftsh-Meales has a 
more sinister implication than is apparent from its literal interpretation 
there is some indication that it was a slang term for ‘prostitute ’ ® 

Matn-M aine-Matm-Mean 

The well-known pun ma%n-Ma%ne occurs in 2H6 i i 208—13 

SALISBURY Then lets make hast away, and looke unto the matne 

WARWICK Unto the maine ? Oh Father, Maine is lost. 

That Maine, which by maine force Warwicke did winne. 

And would have kept, so long as breath did last 
Mow-chance father you meant, but I meant Maine, 

Which I will win from France, or else be slaine 

Note the jingle on mam and meant in 1 212, one pronounced [mg n] , the 
other [mgnt] 

The second instance, which involves a play on mam and mam, the 16th- 
century form of maim (see OED), is also found in 2H6, 42 169-72 

BUTCHER And furthermore, wee'l have the Lord Sayes head, for 
selling the Dukedome of Maine 

CADE And good reason for thereby is England main*d and fame to 
go with a staffe 

3 Partridge, Shakespeare* s Bawdy, p 113 


A third pun, on matn 'high sea’ and mean{s), is a distinct possibility in 
A YL 2 7 72-3 

Doth it not flow as hugely as the Sea, 

Till that the weane verie meanes do ebbe 

The reading weane vene (Fi, 2), which corresponds to weary very (F3, 
4) IS usually emended to the wearer's very By retaining the F reading and 
interpreting meanes as a play on mams (both were pronounced [m? nz] ) , 
we resolve the textual difficulty and are rewarded with a well-knit sea 
metaphor ^ 

Manner-Matnour {Manners-Manor 

This triple pun ® is used in LLL i i 204-13, with an additional quibble 
on form-form (see above) 

COSTARD The manner of it is I was taken with the manner 

BEROWNE In what manner 

COSTARD In manner and forme following sir all those three I was 
seene with her in the Manner house, sitting with her upon the Forme, 
and taken following her into the Parke which put together, is in 
manner and forme following Now sir for the manner ^ It is the 
manner of a man to speake to a woman, for the forme in some forme 


In LLL 5 2 328, MV i 2 7 f , RJ 3 3 45, TGV i 2 95-6, and TS 5 2 31-2 
there is considerable punning on the various meanings of mean as an ad- 
jective, adverb, noun, and verb In 1H6 i 2 120-1 there seems to be, 
besides, a pun on men ® 

REiGNiER Shall wee disturbe him since hee keepes no meane’^ 

ALENgoN He may meane more then we poor men do know 


The general drift of the verbal skirmish between Beatrice, Leonato, 
and the Messenger in MA i i 44-52 seems to warrant the assumption 
of a pun on meat and meet (adj ) 

BEATRICE I promis’d to eate all of his killing 

LEONATO ’Faith Neece, you taxe Signior Benedicke too much, but 
hee’l be meet with you, I doubt it not 

4 This wordplay was pointed out to me by the late Dr Doniphan Louthan 

5 The same pun occurs m Lyly, Euphues, p 225 

6 Lyly puns on meanr^nean in Sapho and Phao 4 1 15-17 



MESSENGER He hath done good service Lady in these wars 
BEATRICE You had musty victuall, and he hath holpe to ease [eat Q] 
It he’s a very valiant Trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomacke 

Such a pun has actually been suggested m the Warwick ed , with an inter- 
esting reference to 11 121-3 of the same scene, where Beatrice retorts 

Is it possible Disdaine should die, while shee hath such meete foode 
to feede it, as Signior Benedicke ^ 

We may further compare S 118 with its extended use of culinary meta- 
phors, two of which appear in the form of a play on jare and meat (1 7) 

And sicke of wel-/ar^ found a kind of w^^^nesse 

It IS, however, difficult to say for certain whether the same kind of pun 
IS intended in Doll’s abuse of Pistol in 2H4 2 4 134-5 

away you mouldie Rogue, away , I am meat for your Master 

OED and most editors take the word meat here at its face value, inter- 
pi eting it as a figurative use of the noun meat ‘food,’ but it may equally 
well be the adjective meet, sometimes spelled meat(e) in the i6th cen- 
tury, or a deliberate pun on the two words 

Moreover, Lady Macbeth seems to indulge in a similar kind of witticism 
when urging her husband to '‘give the cheer” to his guests (M 3 4 35-7) 

to feede were best at home 
From thence, the sawce to meate is Ceremony, 

Meeting were bare without it 

In that case meat must have been pronounced [mi t], a class variant of 
[m^ t] in contemporary London English but the regular Scots form then 
and now 

M eddler-M edlar 

There are two instances of this pun in Shakespeare, one m TmA 
43305-^ (see eat-hate, above) and the other in AYL 32 125-9 (see 
yew-you, below) 

Mistake-Must take 

For the Q2 and F reading mistake H 3 2 262, 

So you mistake [your Q2] Husbands, 

7 Cf I s^6 m The Battle of Alcasar “Meate of a pnncesse, for a pnncesse meate,” 
with reference to the “lyons flesh” upon Muly Mahamet’s sword 

Shakespeare's homonymic puns 


Q has instead must take 

So you must take your husband 

The latter version is generally accepted by modern editors against the 
strong textual authority of Q2 and F Perhaps there is a quibble here, 
with unstressed must pronounced [m3s(t) ] 

Mood-Moved-Moody, R J 3 i 12-15 

MERCXJTio Come, come, thou art as hot a Jacke in thy mood^ as 
any m Itahe and assoone moued to be moodxe, and assoone moodte 
to be mou'd 

For the quibble mood-moved^ implying the omission of v in moved (see 
p 326, below), we may compare Spenser's rhyme Wo wd stoud remoud 
in The Faerie Queene^ III, ix, 43, 6-9 

Moor-More, MV 3 5 40 if 

LORENZO I shall answere that better to the Commonwealth, than 
you can the getting up of the Negroes bellie the Moore is with childe 
by you Launcelot 

LAUNCELOT It IS wMch that the Moore should be more then reason 
but if she be lesse then an honest woman, shee is indeed more then I 
tooke her for 

Another example, just as elaborate, occurs m TA 4 2 52 ff 

Morning-Mourning, S 132 5 ff 

And truly not the morning Sun of Heaven 
Better becomes the gray cheeks of th'East 
Nor that full Starre that ushers in the Eaven 
Doth halfe that glory to the sober West 
As those two morning eyes become thy face 
O let It there as well beseeme thy heart 
To mourne for me since mourning doth thee grace 
And sute thy pitty like in every part 


There is perhaps such a pun in C i 3 92-4 

VALERIA You would be another Penelope yet they say, all the yearne 
she spun in Ulisses absence, did but fill Athica full of Mothes 

Note that Don Armado's page in LLL is named Moth, that is, mote 
(see p 320, below) 



M ountain-Mountifig 

Theobald was on the right track when he wanted to emend mounting to 
mountain in LLL 4 i 1-5, but no modern editor of the play has seen the 
obvious pun here 

PRINCESS Was that the King that spurd his horse so hard 
Against the steepe uprising of the hill ^ 

BOYET I know not, but I thinke it was not he 
PRINCESS Who ere a was, a shew’d a mounting minde 

Near-N e'er, R2 5 i 87-8 

Weepe thou for me in France, I, for thee heere 
Better farre off, then neere, be ne're the neere 

Similarly in LLL 4 i 136 

Neat-Neat, WT i 2 123-5 

We must be neat, not neat, but cleanly, Captaine 
And yet the Steere, the Heycfer, and the Calfe, 
Are all call'd Neat 


In the 14th century neck had a variant with i (OED), a pronunciation 
not unknown in English dialects today ® That it was current in Shake- 
speare's time IS apparent from Alice's use of it in H5 3 4 34-9 

KATHERINE coment apelle vous le col 

ALICE DeNick Madame 
KATHERINE De Nick, e le menton 
ALICE De Chin 

KATHERINE De Sin le col de Nick, le menton de Sin 

Its homonym mck 'slit' has the same sexual connotation as score 2H4 
2 I 26 or breach 2H4 2 4 55 

In 1H4 2 I 67-8, on the other hand, [nik] for neck is clearly used as a 
Jingle on Nicholas 

GADSHiLL Sirra, if they meete not with S Nicholas Clarks, He give 
thee this necke 

8 It IS recorded neither in EDGr nor in EDD, but I have heard it in Sf (see Sf 
Dial , p 283) 



N%nus'-Ntnny*s, MND 3 i 99--100 

THiSBE He meete thee Piramus, at Ntnntes toombe 
QUINCE Ntniis toombe man 

NoHng-N othmg 

In spite of the phonological difficulties involved, there seems to be a 
pun on noHng and nothing, both probably pronounced [no tn] (see p 
320, below) in MA 2 3 56-9 

PEDRO Doe It in notes 
BALTHASAR Note this before my notes 
Theres not a note of mine that's worth the noting 
PEDRO Why these are very crotchets that he speaks, 

Note notes forsooth, and nothing 

The pun recurs in WT 4 4 625-6, where Autolycus jests 

no hearing, no feeling, but my Sits Song, and admiring the 
Nothing of it 

It has been suggested that nothing m Much Ado about Nothing is a 
pun on noting ‘eaves-dropping,' but this is unlikely since there is no 
evidence that note ever had such a meaning , on the other hand, it could 
mean ‘to brand with disgrace, to stigmatize' (see OED) 


The best example occurs m TGV 2 i 1-2, where on and one rhyme 

SPEED Sir, your Glove 

VALENTINE Not mine my Gloves are <?w 

SPEED Why then this may be yours for this is but one 

It IS also used by Dromio in CE 4 2 53-5 (for the full quotation see hour- 
whore, above) 

'tis time that I were gone 

It was two ere I left him, and now the clocke strikes one 

A third instance will be found in LLL 4 2 84 ff (see parson-person- 
pierce one, etc , below), but I see no compelling reason for admitting such 
a pun in TN 3 r 16-25, wheie some commentators see a play on wanton 
and want one (cf VarEd , p 182) 




It IS probably an understatement to say that scholars have been be- 
wildered by Malvolio's remark m TN 2 5 95-9 after having found the 
faked letter 

MALVOLio By my life this is my Ladies hand these bee her very Cs, 
her U’s, and her T’s, and thus makes shee her great P^s It is in con- 
tempt of question her hand 

ANDREW Her Cs, her U^s, and her T’s why that ^ 

Sir Andrew’s obtuse question neatly sums up their attitude to the pas- 
sage ® Hence it will be necessary to point out here that c-u-t spells cut,^ 
a word clearly synonymous with breach, case, hole, mck, 0 , score, most 
of which have been explained above 

A similar pun occurs in MWW 4 i 32-8, where the spelling peeble, 
which need not be but very likely should be understood as a compound,® 
and the simultaneous play on stone and lapts reveal how the lines were 

EVANS What is (Lapis) William^ 


EVANS And what is Stone (William) ^ 

EVANS No, it IS Lapis 

Schmidt’s tentative suggestion that peasecod in 2H4 2 4 412 ff is used 
with a pun on codpiece ® shows a clear understanding of the Elizabethan 
temper, Mrs Quickly bids Falstaff farewell, saying 

I have knowne thee these twentie nine yeeres, come Pescod-time 

It IS, indeed, illuminating to study two other passages m which peasecod 
occurs, VIZ , AYL 2 4 44-56, TN i S 165-9 , their wording suggests the 
same kind of double-entendre 

9 See, e g , Kittredge^s subtle explication (p 405) 

1 Cut score, and mck have escaped the searching eye of Partridge, so has P 
For the use of cut here cf the pun cut-case AC i 2 173 and the Induction to Mar- 
ston’s The Malcontent (11 34-7) “By this light, *t was Mistress Frank Honeymoon^s 
fortune still to have the longest cut I did measure for the women ” Cf kutte in Ludus 
CoventncB, p 205, 1 152 

2 Pebble is a slang term for ^testicle’ (Farmer-Henley, 5, 155) Cf Lyly’s obscene 
pun on stone in Gallathea 5 i 18-26 

3 “Fie on him,” VarEd , p 214, comments 



Pale-Pale, WT 434 
For the red blood raigns in the winters pale 
Apparently a play on pale ‘enclosure' and pale ‘paleness' (cf VA 589) 

Parson-Person-Parse one-Ptei ce one-Pierang 

Our modern pronunciation of pierce with [lo] goes back to a form with 
ME e, by the side of which there existed a variant with ME er, surviving, 
e g , in Sf as [pAs] and reported by some early orthoepists ^ Since, how- 
ever, ME er frequently became ar as in parson <C, person, this ME doublet 
percen would tend to develop into parsen, a form reflected in the 15th- 
16th-century spellings parsoure, parser for piercer (OED) and in the 
Sheffield term parser or parsey, “a crude, but wonderfully efficient drill " ® 
The existence of the latter pronunciation is confirmed by Hodges (1643), 
who equates Pierce, pearce, and parse as pronounced alike ® A multiple 
wordplay involving these words and subsidiary quibbles on one and -on 
(see above) and unstressed -on and -mg renders the following passage 
from LLL 4 2 84 ff the most elaborate piece of homonymic quibbling in 

JAQUENETTA God give you good morrow M Person 
HOLOFERNES Master Person, quasi Person"^ And if one should be 
Perst, Which is the one’^ 

COSTARD Marry, M Schoolemaster, hee that is likest to a hogs- 

HOLOFERNES Of pcrstng a Hogshead, a good luster of conceit in a 
turph of Earth 

Pastor-Pasture, LLL 2 i 219 ff 

KATHERINE Two hot Sheepes mane 
BOYET And wherefore not Ships ^ 

No Sheepe (sweet Lamb) unlesse we feed on your lips 

KATHERINE You Sheep and I pasture shall that finish the jest^ 
BOYET So you grant pasture for me 

Note the abnormal plural sheepes for the sake of the pun on ships 

4 Sf Dial, §271 Nares (1784) had heard a similar pronunciation, which agrees 
excellently with the conservative pronunciation of the surname Pierce in America as 
[pars], [p3 s] {Krapp, 2, 181) 

5 Dyson, p 32 

6 “Mr Pierce, did pearce it with a sword The scholar did parse and construe his 
lesson” (Hodges, A Special Help to Orthographie, p 7) Note also the spelling Parce 
(1738) in the Lunenburg Records (Krapp, p 181) 



Percy-Pterce him, 1H4 S 3 58 
FALSTAFF If Percy be alive, He pierce him 

Both words may have been pronounced with [a ] or [3 ] , cf parson- 
person, etc and purse-person (pp 134 and 82, above) 

Piece-Peace, J 4 3 93 

PEMBROKE Cut him to peeces 
BASTARD Keepe the peace, I say 

In those days peace could be pronounced both [pg s] and [pi s], though 
the former variant was undoubtedly more common in fashionable speech 


There seems to be a pun on pilled ‘deprived of hair’ and piled ‘covered 
with hair, having long nap’ in MM 12 32-5 

I GENTLEMAN thou art good velvet, thou’rt a three pild- 

peece I warrant thee I had as liefe be a Lyst of an English Kersey, 
as be pil’d, as thou art piVd, for a French Velvet 


When in 2H4 2 4 174 Mrs Quickly appeals. 

Good Captaine Peesel be quiet, it is very late, 

she is not mispronouncing his name as suggested by Cowl ^ but merely 
using the current colloquial pronunciation of pistol without the medial t 
as in castle No doubt Pistol was intentionally chosen by Shakespeare be- 
cause of its close similarity to pizsle, here used as a fitting symbol of the 
Captain’s physical and moral qualities ^ 


The garbled F version of 2H6 4 i 69-72 not only rums the dialogue but 
obscures the pun on pool and de la Pole's name implied in the Lieutenant’s 
string of invectives 

LIEUTENANT Strike off his head 
SUFFOLK Thou dar’st not for thy owne 
LIEUTENANT Poole, Sir Poole^ Lord 

7 VarEd , p 185 Note the bawdy pun in 2H4 2 4 121 ff 

8 See my article ‘Tunning Names in Shakespeare,*' p 241 



I kennell, puddle, smke, whose filth and dirt 
Troubles the silver Spring, wheie England drinkes 

In the Q text, on the other hand, the Lieutenant’s second line is divided 
between him (here called “Captain”) and Suffolk in a manner that makes 
the pun perfectly clear 

CAPTAIN Yes Poull 


CAPTAIN I Poull, puddle, kennell, smke and durt 

As pointed out by Alexander ® the F printer misread the speech headings 
Suf and Lieut of his copy as Sir and Lord, producing the disconnected 
and almost unintelligible line ‘ Poole, Sir Pooled Lord” To clear up 
the textual difficulty here, Capell conflated the Q and F versions in this 
way ''Cap Yes Pole Suj Pole * Cap Pool ’ Sir Pool ^ lord and his 
reconstruction has been incorporated into all modern editions of the play, 
including Kittredge’s The Q version is better, however, and should ap- 
pear in a modern edition as follows "Lieut Yes Poole Suj 'Poolt^ Lieut 
Ay, kennel, puddle, sink, whose filth and dirt ” 

The Q and F spellings Poull and Poole imply a pronunciation [pu 1 ], 
which agrees with the derivation of Pole from OE pdl , our modern form 
[poul] IS therefore a spelling-pronunciation It is possible, however, that 
the Lieutenant used the antecedent of the latter, [pol], perhaps with a 
pun on poll (cf “strike off his head”), in which case Suffolk’s Poole 
should be interpreted as an emphatic correction of the Lieutenant’s pro- 

Polecat-^Puicher, MWW 4 i 26-30 

When Shakespeare made Mrs Quickly misunderstand the Latin ad- 
jective pulcher as polecat ‘prostitute,’ he must have used the common early 
variant ME pulcatt, recorded as pulcatt, pulkat, poulcat(te) 5-8 (OED) , 
[pulkot] and [pulkaj] were certainly close enough for confusion 

EVANS Peace, your tatlmgs What is (Faire) William^ 

WILLIAM Pulcher 

QUICKLY Powlcats^ there are fairer things then Powlcats, sure 
Popnn Peare 

Popnn Peare is the F spelling of poppermg pear (a variety of pear 
originally from Popermghe in Flanders), which occurs in Mercutio’s 
bawd> speech m RJ 2 i 34-8 

9 See Shakespeare Survey, 5, 7-8 



Now will he sit under a Medler tree, 

And wish his Mistresse were that kind of Fruite, 

As Maides call Medlers when they laugh alone, 

O Romeo that she were, O that she were 
An open, or thou a Popnn Peare 

Instead of the F reading an open, or, which is clearly corrupt, Q has 
an open et ccetera, now the accepted version Since the medlar has of old 
been called open-arse (Chaucer openers), the meaning of the cryptic et 
ccetera is no longer a secret , in my opinion it is a misreading of a sloppily 
written ers or arce as etc 01 &c , which the printer expanded to et ccetera ^ 
But the implied meaning of Popnn Peare has remained an unsolved crux 
Partridge ^ tiies to explain the phrase by assuming that popnn is a pun on 
pop her in and that pear means "penis and scrotum ' At first blush this 
would appear to be an adequate interpretation, quite in keeping with the 
rest of Mercutio's tirade Nevertheless at least two valid objections can 
be raised against the suggested pun on popnn the word is decidedly a 
disyllabic, in which the r is too weakly articulated to be easily understood 
as her , and, secondlv, if her in pop her %n is to be construed as the indirect 
or dative object, the result is a syntactical anomaly If on the other hand 
her is to be understood as the direct or accusative object, then we should 
have been told why her could be used about pear It is true that in OE pere 
was feminine, but it was apparently masculine in ME,^ and in Shake- 
speare’s usage, insofar as it can be mferied from AW i i 175 , the word 
was neuter Perhaps this is an early instance of what Curme (pp 555 O 
calls ""gender of animation,” which we may use ""in our playful moods” and 
then with ""a great fondness for the feminine ” If so, the reduction of un- 
stressed her to nonsyllabic r would be no serious obstacle, since the pro- 
noun is repeated by the noun pear , but then what about Partridge’s trans- 
lation of it ^ Taking all this into consideration, I prefer to look upon popnn 
as the present participle of an unrecorded verb popper formed from the 
noun popper "gun, pistol’ or alternatively as a frequentative of pop, with 
the same meaning of that word Pear must have been a slang term mean- 
ing "scrotum ’ Suppose, however, that it was commonly pronounced with 
[1 ] instead of [e ] m Shakespeare s time as it still is in several dialects , 
then we may instead have here a pun on an -er derivative of the verb pee 
of the same kind as staler from stale (see stealer-staler, below) , in that 

1 Et ccBtera may, of course, be the original word, in which case open is mono- 
syllabic and ccetera disyllabic, with or omitted as in Qi Yet it is perhaps even more 
likely that the original reading was ‘"An open arse, or thou a Popnn Peare ” 

2 Shakespeare's Bawdy, p 169 

3 See Ausbuttel, p 44. 


event there can have been no rhyme xvere pear, the only one m the whole 


A triple pun on pound ‘enclosure/ pound ‘to impound, to beat/ and 
pound ‘sterling' occurs in TGV i i 109-15 

PROTEUS Nay, m that you are astray 'twere best pound you 

SPEED Nay Sir, lesse then a pound shall serve me for carrying your 

PROTEUS You mistake, I meane pounds a Pinfold 

SPEED From a pound to a pin ^ fold it over and over 

Pray-Prey, 1H4 2 i 87-91 

they pray continually unto their Saint the Commonwealth, 
or rather, not to pray to her, but prey on her for they ride up & downe 
on her, and make hir their Boots 


A general tendency m eNE to reduce the cluster nts to ns (see p 302, 
below) accounts for this simple pun in AYL i 2 130 ff 

LE BEAU Three propei young men, of excellent growth and pres- 

ROSALIND With bils on their neckes Be it knowne unto all men by 
these presents 


There may be a quibble m R3 44 52-3 (F reverses the order of the 
two lines) 

That excellent grand Tyrant of the earth, 

That reignes in gauled eyes of weeping soules 

For the use of ram m a similar context see R J 3 5 129 

Butler (1634) and Hodges (1643) list raisin and reason as homonyms, 
and It has long been understood that Shakespeare is playing on the two 
words in 1H4 2 4 260 ff 

poiNS Come, your reason Jack, your reason 

FALSTAFF What, Upon compulsion^ No were I at the Strappado, 



or all the Racks in the World, I would not tell you on compulsion 
Give you a reason on compulsion ^ If Reasons were as plentie as Black- 
berries, I would give no man a Reason upon compulsion, I 

Dogberry’s remark in MA 5 i 210-13 is another obvious example of 
the pun, as is Jaques’ flippant rejoinder in AYL 2 7 loo-i, for the fruit 
on the Duke’s table doubtless consisted of grapes or raisins, further 
AYL I 3 4-9, where, however, Celia and Rosalind may be indulging in a 
much more unmaidenly kind of witticism (reason-raising), quite con- 
sonant with their broad double talk later in the same scene For not only 
raisin and reason were homonyms but also reason and raising, the ending 
-mg of the latter word being pronounced [in] or [n] Like raise R J 2 i 24, 
raising has a sexual connotation m this passage from TS pr 2 i 126 f 

LADY I hope this reason stands for my excuse 
BEGGAR I, It stands so that I may hardly tarry so long 

The same coarse joke (with an additional pun on holy-holey) is al- 
most certainly intended in AW i 3 29-35 ^.nd in LLL 5 2 243-4, while 
Lysander’s violent protestations of love in MND 22 1 11-22 contain no 
less than four instances of reason with, it seems, an obscene innuendo In 
fact, the burlesque character of that scene would be considerably height- 
ened by the suggested double-entendre, which would besides account for 
Helena’s angry reaction ‘Tn such disdainful manner me to woo” and ‘T 
thought you lord of more true gentleness ” There is, indeed, a striking 
similarity between the use of reason in this passage and its appearance, 
with an unambiguous pun on raising, in S 151 8 


Falstaff, describing to Ford his ignominious ducking in the Thames, 
MWW 3 5 90-1, cannot forbear quibbling on buck (n ) and buck (vb), 
and on ram (n ) and ram (vb) ^ 

Yes a R If c/e-basket rawJd mee in with foule Shirts 

In AYL I 2 1 13-14 Rosalind chooses to misunderstand the Clown 

TOUCHSTONE Nay, if I keepe not my ranke 
ROSALIND Thou loosest thy old smell 

Similarly Cy 2 i 17-18 

4 The suggestion (Partridge, Shakespeare* s Bawdy, p 176) that there is an 
intentional ambiguity with sexual implication in Qeopatra’s use of ram AC 2 5 24-5 
seems farfetched despite the fertility metaphor in which she clothes her speech 




See Fa-jay, p 105, above 


It has been suggested ® that Lysander’s comment on Quince's manner 
of speaking the prologue, MND 5 i 119, 

He hath nd his Prologue, like a rough Colt, 

contains a pun on rid {den) and the p pie of nd ‘to nd himself of, to dis- 
patch, get through ' This is plausible but much more so is the assumption 
that rid is the p pie of read, with the very common raising of ^ to z as in 
togither for together Thus Lysander is punning on read (p pie) [nd] 
and rid ‘ridden ' 

Recover— Re-cover 

This pun IS used twice, in CE 2 2 73-6 (see fine-join, above) and 
in JC I I 26 ff 

but withal I am indeed Sir, a Surgeon to old shooes when 
they are in great danger, I recover them 


The phrase ‘to set up one's rest,' originally a term in the game of 
primero but later used figuratively to mean ‘to stake' and then ‘to be re- 
solved,' occurs in a quibble on the verb i est in RJ 4 5 5-7 

Sleepe for a weeke, for the next night I wan ant 
The Countie Pans hath set up his rest, 

That you shall rest but little, God forgive me 

Considering the bawdy tone of the Nurse's speech, it would not be inap- 
propriate to assume a further pun on wrest ‘an implement for wresting ' 

The pun is repeated in RJ 53110 and MV 2 2 iio-ii 


This quibble, which occurs in LLL i i 99-101 and appears to have 
escaped the notice of editors, is borne out by Ferdinand's characterization 
of Berowne as “an envious sneaping frost" 

5 New Clarendon ed , p 107 



BEROWNE Something then in nme 

FERDINAND Berowne is like an envious sneapmg Frost, 

That bites the first borne infants of the Spring 

Rtghts-Rites, MA 2 i 372-3 

CLAUDIO To morrow my Lord, Time goes on crutches, till Love 
have all his ntes 

Rtng-Wrtng, TS i 2 16-17 

Taith sirrah, and you’l not knocke, lie ring it, 

He trie how you can Sol, Fa, and sing it 

He rings him by the eares 


A pun on npe 'to grow ripe’ and npe 'to grope for, search for' occurs in 
AYL 2 7 26 , see hour-whore, above 


The old pronunciation of Rome with [u ], evidenced, eg, by Butler 
(1634) and Hodges (1643), who equate Rome and room, survived into 
the 19th century, as late as 1791 Walker characterized it as "irrevocably 
fixed " That Shakespeare used it is evident from the following lines spoken 
by Cassius in JC i 2 I54ff 

When could they say (till now) that talk’d of Rome, 

That her wide Walkes mcompast but one man ^ 

Now IS it Rome indeed, and Roome enough 
When there is in it but one onely man 

The same pun occurs in JC 3 i 288 f and in J 3 i 180 

What seemingly complicates matters is the pun on Rome and roam in 

WINCHESTER Rome shall remedie this 

WARWICK Roame thither then 

It has been suggested, and with good reason, that the new pronuncia- 
tion of Rome, [ro m], which was to become modern [roum], had already 
emerged in Shakespeare's time and become an acceptable variant form 
(VarEd, p 42) Yet unmistakable evidence of a pronunciation [rum] 
for roam exists in the 17th century and even earlier, for which see p 231, 

Shakespeare's homonymic puns 


below Shakespeare may therefore have pronounced Rome, room, and roam 
alike, namely, as [rum], like the anonymous author of The Writing 
Scholar's Companion (1695), who lists them all as homonyms 


The Arden ed of R3 (p 147), unwisely trying to etymologize Rich- 
mond, explains the play on Richmond and Rougemont, spelled Ruge- 
mount R3 4 2 107 (Q), as being due to the similarity of sound, without 
of course offering any phonological evidence in support Like Ridgmont 
Bd {Rugemund 1227) and Ridgmont YE (Rugemunt 1260), the Norman 
castle that once stood at Exeter was called Rougemont ‘the red lull' be- 
cause of “the rich hue of the New Red Sandstone rocks" on which it was 
built ® Since in Devon OE hrycg developed into Ridge and Rudge,'^ popular 
etymology may have been responsible for the change to Ridgmont (as m 
Bd and YE), which Richard heard as Richmond Alternatively we have 
here an instance of the southwestern change of w to ^ mentioned in EDGr, 
§100, for which see also Wiegert, §190 


In her violent denunciation of Falstaff to Fang and Snare, Mrs Quickly 
sums up her grievances in these words (2H4 2 i 39 ff ) 

There is no honesty m such dealing, unles a woman should be made 
an Asse and a Beast, to beare every Knaves wrong 

Since the preceding lines of this scene contain much bawdy double talk, 
one may suspect something of that sort here too From Butler (1634) we 
know that wrung and wrong could be pronounced alike, and consequently 
also rung and wrong Now rung meant not only "spoke of a wheel' (here 
with a subsidiary pun knave-nave, for which see above) but also any 
"stout, rounded stick' , as such it doubtless conveyed the same associations 
as bauble RJ 2 4 97 ff , carrot MWW 4 i 55, pen MV 5 i 237, pile 2H4 
24 S 5 j weapon 2H4 2 i 17, to mention only five of Shakespeare's many 
suggestive synonyms If so, there is a further quibble on hear and hare, 
for which see p 94, above 

The pun on 'ivrung-wrong occurs in TA 4 3 48 

Yet wrung with wrongs more then our backe can beare 

6 See PN Bd and Hu, pp 82 f , and PN YE, pp xxix, 34 

7 See PN D, pp xxxiv, 665 



Sack-Sack, 2H4 i 2 220-2 

I have checkt him for it, and the yong Lion repents Marry not in 
ashes and jac^^-cloath, but in new Silke, and old Sacke 

Another example, on sack (vb) and sack (wine), occurs in 1H4 5 3 55-7 
Similarly 1H6 3 2 10 

Sacrifice— Ftse 

A typical and obvious reference to breaking wind occurs in Cy i 2 1-5 

I LORD Sir, I would advise you to shift Shirt, the Violence of 
Action hath made you reek as a Sa-cnfice , where a^fre comes out, ayre 
comes in , There’s none abroad so wholesome as that you vent 

In addition to the semantic puns air, vent, and reek, the secondary mean- 
ing of which, ‘stink,' antedates the examples given in OED by nearly a 
hundred years, we have the homonymic puns wholesome-hole-some, for 
which see p 116, above, and sacnfice-fise, a variant of fist ‘breaking 
wind' (OED) « 


These were formerly homonyms (so given by Butler, 1634) and con- 
sequently suitable for punning as in 2H6 4 10 7 -i 7 > where Cade philoso- 

Wherefore on a Bricke wall have I climb'd into this Garden, to see 
if I can eate Grasse, or picke a Sdllet another while, which is not 
amisse to coole a mans stomacke this hot weather and I think this 
word Sallet was borne to do me good for many a time but for a 
Sdllet, my braine-pan had bene cleft with a brown Bill , and many a 
time when I have beene dry, & bravely marching, it hath serv'd me 
insteede of a quart pot to drinke in and now the word Sallet must 
serve me to feed on 

A subsidiary pun word-wort is very likelv , see below 
Say-Sea WT 3 3 84 ff 

CLOWN I have seene two such sights, hy Sea ^ by Land but I am 
not to say it is Sea 

8 The VarEd explication (p 34) is priceless “The speaker advises Cloten to 
shift a shirt in order to cease reeking, otherwise he must take air in to supply 
what he loses, and the outer air is less wholesome than that of his own sweet body ” 



Hodges (1643) lists say and sea as homonyms There is also a pun on 
the name of Lord Say and say ‘cloth' m 2H6 4 7 27 


Such a pun would add poignancy to Prince John's rebuke of the Arch- 
bishop m 2H4 4 2 26-8 

You have taken up 
Under the counterfeited Zeale of Heaven, 

The Subjects of Heavens Substitute, my Father 

Indeed, many of the editors of the play have emended zeal to seal ( VaiEd , 
p 310) Note that Butler (1634) gives the two words as homonyms 
A similar wordplay is used by the Duke of Austria in J 2 i 19-20 

Upon thy cheeke lay I this zelous kisse. 

As seale to this indenture of my love 

When in CE 4 2 58 Dromio remarks that 

Time IS a verie bankerout, and owes more then he's worth to season, 

he is probably quibbling on setsin ‘to confiscate' , see the full quotation 
given under hour-whore, above 


In LLL I 2 10 and 3 i 182 there seems to be a pun on senior and signor, 
as borne out by the spelling of the word in the latter passage 

This stgmor Junios gyant drawfe, don Cupid 

The accepted reading of this line is now “This senior junior, giant dwarf, 
Dan Cupid" , for a discussion see VarEd , pp 104 f 

Sem-So, TGV 3 i 308 f 

SPEED Item, she can sowe 

LATJNCE That's as much as to say (Can she 


The F spelling sireteene H 5 i 177 suggests that the Clown pronounced 
sexton here almost or exactly like sixteen year 


Why heere in Denmarke I have bin sixeteene heere, man and Boy 
thirty yeares 

The Q2 spelling is Sexten heere It should be noted, too, that the Clown 
uses the plural form ye are three times in his next speeech (11 183 f ) 


Besides the regular eNE pronunciation of sheep as ship, there seems to 
have existed another, of different dialectal origin but common enough to 
make it possible to pun on shape as in 2H6 3 i 77 ff 

Is he a Lambe ^ his Skinne is surely lent him. 

For hee's ending as is the ravenous Wolves 
Who cannot steale a shape, that meanes deceit^ 

There are several instances of the sheep-ship pun, e g , in CE 4 1 93 f 

ANTiPHOLUS How now ^ a Madman ^ Why thou peevish sheep 
What ship of Epidamium stales for me 
DROMio A ship you sent me too, to hier waftage 

Similarly in LLL 2 i 219 ff (see pastor-pasture, above), TGV i i 72-4, 
and WT 3 3 112 

Shoot (^er^-Suit {or) 

According to Hodges (1643) shoot and suit were pronounced alike, and 
It IS therefore no surprise to find Shakespeare punning on the two words 
and their derivatives shooter and suitor as in LLL 41 1 10 ff 

BOYET Who IS the shooter^ Who is the shooter‘s 
ROSALINE Shall I teach you to know 
BOYET I my continent of beautie 

ROSALINE Why she that beares the Bow Finely put off 
BOYET My Lady goes to kill homes, but if you marrie. 

Hang me by the necke, if homes that yeare miscarrie 
Finely put on 

ROSALINE Well then, I am the shooter 
BOYET And who is your Deare ^ 

The same puns on shooter and deer, reinforced by another on hart and 
heart, will be found in MA i i 130 f 
Shoot and suit themselves are played on in LLL 4 i 10-27 and proba- 
bly also in AYL 2 7 44 ff , where shoot ‘branch, sucker' would then be 
associated with weed and grow (see weed-weed, below) ® 

9 Cf Lyly^s pun in Euphues and His England, p 70 “There was a Lady in Spaine, 
who hadde three sutors, (and yet never a good Archer) ” 



Shot-Scot, 1H4 5 3 30 f 

FALSTAFF Though I could scape shot-free at London, I fear the 
shot heere here's no scoring, but upon the pate 

Cf 1H4 I3 2i2ff and 1H4 54113!, where Hotspur and Falstaff 
pun on Scot and scot An audience, familiar with shot-free and scot-free 
(for which see OED), would have caught the subtle play on shot-Scot, 
even if the actor said shot 

Sleep-Slip, TGV 3 i 333 f 

SPEED Item, she doth talke m her sleepe 

LAUNCE It's no matter for that , so shee sleepe not in her talke 


In RJ 14 17-21 Mercutio and Romeo exchange these witticisms 

MERCUTio You are a Lover, borrow Cupids wings, 

And soare with them above a common bound 
ROMEO I am too sore enpearced with his shaft, 

To soare with his light leathers, and to bound 
I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe 

In LLL 4 2 58 ff we have an elaborate pun on sore ‘buck of the fourth 
year’ and sore (see L-Y ell, above), and similarly in TC 3 i 130 


The best illustration of the pun sole-soul is this famous line, MV 
41 123 

Not on thy so ale but on thy soul harsh Jew 

Similarly in JC i i 15, RJ i 4 15, 2 4 67-70 (with involved quibbling on 
sole-solely-soled-souled) , TGV 23 19, and perhaps 1H4 4 i 49-52 
In 1H4 I 2 126 If Poms puns on soul and sold 

Jacket How agrees the Divell and thee about thy Soule, that thou 
soldest him on Good-Fnday last 

And when m RJ 4 5 12, according to Q, Peter threatens. 

He sol you, 

he clearly implies that he will sowl the other musician , that verb, spelled 
sole, IS used by Shakespeare in C 4 5 212 



Some-Sum^ 2H4 2 i 77 ff 

HOSTESS and he is arrested at my suit 
JUSTICE For what summe ^ 

HOSTESS It IS more then for some (my Lord) it is for all 

This IS one of the most common puns in Shakespeare, sometimes used 
with grim effect as in RJ 3 5 127 ff , where Capulet bitterly remarks 

When the Sun sets, the earth doth drizzle daew 
But for the Sunset of my Brothers Sonne, 

It raines downright 

Other instances will be found in H i 2 66 f , 1H4 3 3 42, 1H6 4 5 52 f , 
3H6 2 I 39 ff , J 2 I 499 f , LLL 5 2 169-71, R3 I I I f , 13 266 f , and 
LLL 4 3 369, where get means 'beget’ (note further the quibbling use of 
standards ^ in 1 367) 


In her lament over Romeo’s banishment Juliet is playing on sound 'to 
plumb’ and sound 'to utter’ in RJ 3 2 125-6 

There is no end, no limit, measure, bound, 

In that words death, no words can the woe sound 

Some pretty uninteresting punning on sound (n ) and so^md (vb) will 
be found in RJ 4 5 130-44 


Spur, the I5th-i7th-century variant of speer 'to ask’ may be punned on 
in LLL 2 I 119 

KATHERINE ’Tis long of you that spur me with such questions 

Rosalind’s reference to the amorous gazes exchanged between Celia 
and Oliver in AYL 5 2 35-43 makes it clear that we have such a pun 
here, with a quibbling use of degrees 'steps’ 

For your brother, and my sister, no sooner met, but they look'd 
no sooner look'd, but they lov'd , and in these degrees, have they 

I Cf Lyly, Euphues, p 247 “I knowe Cuno to be Steele to the backe, standerd 
bearer in Venus Campe ” 



made a paire of staires to marriage, >^^hich they will climbe inconti- 
nent, or else bee incontinent before marriage 


To understand the drift of the following dialogue between Falstaif and 
the Prince (1H4 4 2 64ff ), we should remember that butter normally 
used to be made from sour cream or, in Shakespeare’s words, stale cream 
[st? 1 krg m] 2 

FALSTAFF Tut, never feare me, I am as vigilant as a Cat, to steale 

PRINCE I thmke to steale Creame indeed, for thy theft hath alreadie 
made thee Butter 

The woid butter itself may be a saicastic reference to Falstaff’s fatness, 
cf the Prince’s remark in 1H4 24 133 ff and especially Evans’ words, 
MWW 5 5 148 f , ''Seese is not good to give putter , your belly is al 
putter,” for which Q has, ^‘Butter is better then cheese sir John, You are 
all butter, butter ” 

That Falstaff is punning on steal and stale in 1H4 3 3 211 I am in no 
doubt, but the meaning of stale here depends on our interpretation of horse 
in the preceding line (see horse-whores, above) Perhaps, too, Falstaff ’s 
use of steal 1H4 i 2 33 involves a pun on stale ‘urinate ’ 


Our dictionaries do not record any noun staler, derived from the verb 
stale ‘to urinate’ in the same way as the vulgar slang teim kisser is derived 
from kiss, but regardless of whether staler did exist in Elizabethan slang 
(as I suspect) or was merely Shakespeare’s nonce formation, none of his 
audience would have missed the obscene double-entendre of Cloten’s 
words ® in Cy 2 3 72 ff 

’tis Gold 

Which buyes admittance (oft it doth) yes, and makes 
Diana's Rangers false themselves, yeeld up 
Their Deere to'th'stand o’th Stealer 

2 See my article *Thief and Stealer ” 

3 Furness ( VarEd , p ix) rejected almost the entire speech as non-Shakespearean 
because in his opimon it contained “sentiments utterly foreign” to the character of 
Cloten His flagrant misinterpretation is, unfoitunately, not the only example of 
Shakespearean literary criticism based on textual misunderstanding 



Steel-Shll, TC 4 5 195-6 

But this thy countenance {still lockt in steele) 

I never saw till now 

This may be merely a jingle, but [i] in steel is a distinct possibility 
Style-Stile, MA 5 2 6-7 

In so high a stile Margaret, that no man living shall come over it 
Similarly LLL i i 201 f 

7 ad-Tale 

This is one of Shakespeare’s favorite bawdy puns, occurring, e g , in 

0 3i6ff 

CLOWN Are these I pray you, winde Instruments ^ 

MUSICIAN I marry are they sir 
CLOWN Oh, thereby hangs a tale 
MUSICIAN Whereby hangs a tale, sir^ 

CLOWN Marry sir, by many a winde Instrument that I know 

These two instances of tale are spelled tayle in Q ^ 

We also find it in AYL 2 7 28 (see hour-whore, above), RJ 2 4 95 ff 
(see hole-whole, above), TGV 2 3 54 f , TNK 3 3 36 ff , TS 2 i 214 ff , 
4 I 59ff Note also Tale-Porter WT 44273, meaning ‘tale-bearer,’ with 
an obvious pun on Tail-Porter, an appropriate name for a midwife 


T allant was formerly a current variant of talon (5-B OED), a fact that 
explains Dull’s punning aside in LLL 4 2 64 ff 

NATHANIEL A rare talent 

DULL If a talent be a claw, looke how he clawes him with a talent 

Kittredge and other editors think that the same pun is used m TN 

1 5 I4ff 

CLOWN Well, God give them wisedome that have it & those that 
are fooles, let them use their talents 

To be fully effective this pun on talons necessitates a further pun on jools- 
fowls, which is possible if it can be proved that the Clown used a dialectal 
pronunciation of fozvl with [u ] 

4 Peele has the same pun in The Old Wtves Tale, 11 139^4^ 




Doll Tearsheefs name is a clever pun on the verb tear plus sheet and 
the common 16th-century term tear sheet 'sheet of the best quality’ , for 
the use of the adjective tear see OED, where we find the following quota- 
tion from a will of 1544 "A pare of newe hempe tere shets ” ® 


The word theave, meaning 'a female sheep of a particular age most 
generally a ewe of the first or second year that has not yet borne 
a lamb/ originally had the singular form theaje, recorded as thayffe, 
theaf{e)y thiej in OED (6-8) According to EDD it is also used figura- 
tively of a young woman, a sense not noted m OED When in the pas- 
sage from 1H4 3 3 208 ff , quoted above under Horse-Whores, Falstaff 
gives vent to his yearning for "a fine theefe of two and twentie, or there- 
about,” being "heynously unprovided” just then, we can be sure that he 
IS quibbling on this Midland and southern word theafey still used, e g , in 
Warwickshire Shakespeare’s audience would not have failed to catch 
this pun, or the innuendo "two and twentie,” in particular since the 
actor playing Falstaff is likely to have made a slight pause after "two ” ® 


A pun at the expense of Dr Cams, the French physician, in MWW 
3 3252 f 

If there be one, or two, I shall make-a-the^wrd 
Throne-Thaf Roan 

The old, etymologically correct pronunciation of throne was trone 
(see p 321, below), a fact that explains Hotspur’s jest in 1H4 2 3 73 

That Roane shall be my Throne 


Shakespeare runs this pun very hard in TGV 2 3 41-57 ^ 

5 See my article “Punning Names m Shakespeare,” pp 242 f In ^ Gest of Robyn 
Hode, 1 iig, the Friar refers to the “lady free” offered him by Robin Hood as “a 
prycker a prauncer a terer of shetes ” 

6 See my article “Thief and Stealer ” 

7 The same pun occurs in Lyly’s Endimion 4 2 9-1 1 


PANTHiNO away asse, you’l loose the Tide^ if you tarry any 

LAUNCE It IS no matter if the ttde were lost, for it is the unkind- 
est TtdCj that ever any man tide 
PANTHINO What's the unkmdest tide ^ 

LAUNCE Why, he that's tide here. Crab my dog 

LAUNCE Loose the Tide, and the voyage, and the Master, and the 
Service, and the tide 

Tongs-Tongues, TN i 3 96 ff 

ANDREW What is purquoy ^ Do, or not do ^ I would I had bestowed 
that time in the tongues, that I have in fencing dancing, and beare- 
bayting O had I but followed the Arts 

TOBY Then hadst thou had an excellent head of haire 
ANDREW Why, would that have mended my haire ^ 

TOBY Past question, for thou seest it will not coole my nature ® 

Toot-To't, O 3 I i6f ® 

CLOWN If you have any Musicke that may not be heard, too^t againe 
Travailer-Traveler, AYL 2 4 18 

See the quotation under Arden-harden, above In his harden smock, 
Touchstone considered himself a fool in a country clown’s garb — ^in other 
words, he was “more fool,” a greater fool, than before When he was at 
home he had been in a better place — ^probably a play on the two connota- 
tions of place, VIZ , 'position’ and 'locality’ — ^but now as a traveler, with a 
quibble on travailer 'laborer,’ he had to be content with life ^ 


The F spelling voyce for vice Cy 2 3 33 is hardly an error as some 
editors have assumed (VarEd , p 130), but it indicates the presence of a 
pun on voice here , it is Cloten who comments on the song just executed 
by the musicians 

8 Theobald's emendation of the last three words to curl by nature has been uni- 
versally accepted 

9 Kittredge comments (p 1288) “io'f go to it, go about it — le, tune up We 
need not suppose there is a pun on toot — ^a word which does not occur in Shakespeare ” 
One would not have expected such an argument from Kittredge, the word toot is 
well evidenced in English from about 1510 (OED), but is obviously much older 

I See my article “Touchstone in Arden," p 63 


Shakespeare's homonymic puns 

So get you gone if this pen[e]trate, I will consider your Musicke 
the better if it do not, it is a vo'^^ce in her eares which Horse-haires, 
and Calves-guts, nor the voyce of unpaved Eunuch to boot, can never 

The possibility that the second instance of voyce is a pun on vice ‘screw, 
screw-stopper' should not be overlooked For another possible pun on 
voice-vice see Fnglish-Ingle-ish, above 

Virtuous— Fartuous 

Mrs Quickly's malapropism fartuous MWW 2 2 ioo~i reflects the 
then current pronunciation of virtue, virtuous as vartue, vartuous 

and let mee tell you in your eare, shee's as fartuous a civill modest 


Waist— Waste 

Shakespeare uses this pun twice with reference to Falstaff, viz , in 
MWW I 3 46-7 and in 2H4 i 2 160-3 with the following exchange of 

JUSTICE Your Meanes is very slender, and your wast great 
FALSTAFF I would it Were otherwise I would my Meanes were 
greater, and my waste slenderer 

The same play on waste and waist ‘middle' is probably intended in S 129 i , 
we may compare Marston, The Malcontent, 2 5 89 “ 'T is now about the 
immodest waist of night " ^ 


In eNE no I was sounded in Walter (cf Dames, 1640 ^'Walter, which 
we call quasi Water’*), a pronunciation revealed by the following pun in 
2H6 4 I 31 ff 

WHITMORE And so am I my name is Walter Whitmore 
How now^ why starts thou^ V^at doth death affright^ 

SUFFOLK Thy name affrights me, in whose sound is death 
A cunning man did calculate my birth, 

And told me that by Water I should dye , 

Yet let not this make thee be bloody-minded. 

Thy name is Gualtier, being rightly sounded 

WHITMORE Gualtier or IV alter, which it is I care not 

2 The wast-watst pun m S 129 was suggested to me by the late Dr Doniphan 




Dr Johnson wished to emend words to wards in this passage (LLL 

I 2 i6^) 

COSTARD It IS not for prisoners to be [too] silent m their words, 
and therefore I will say nothing 

Such an emendation would, however, destroy the jest here, for Costard 
IS probably quibbling on word and ward, which appear to have been 
homonyms in his pronunciation That ward was sometimes spelled word 
m the 1 6th and 17th centuries does not invalidate such an assumption, 
see further p 172, below 

Wax-Wax, 2H4 i 2 179 ff 

FALSTAFF A Wassell-Candle, my Lord, all Tallow if I did say of 
wax, my growth would approve the truth 

Similarly LLL 5 2 9-10 


That there is a pun on tveed 'garment' (< OE weed) and weed 'to rid' 
(< OE weodtan) in AYL 2 7 44 ff is clear from the simultaneous play 
on the meanings of smt and on smt-shoot (see above) 

JAQUES It is my onely smte, 

Provided that you weed your better judgements 
Of all opinion that growes ranke in them 


Hodges (1643) gives zvick and week as homonyms, and Dromio's 
drastic characterization of Nell in CE 3 2 96 ff seems to show that the 
two words were pronounced alike also in Shakespeare’s time 

Marry sir, she's the Kitchin wench, & al grease, and I know not 
what use to put her too, but to make a Lampe of her, and run from 
her by her owne light I warrant, her ragges and the Tallow in them, 
will burne a Poland Winter If she lives till doomesday, she'l burne a 
we eke longer than the whole World 


That there is a quibble on well and will in MWW i 3 54-5 (see the 
quotation under Enghsh-Ingle-tsh, above) can hardly be doubted, here 


mil has the meaning ‘carnal desire ’ The same pun may be used in MV 
2 2 54-6 

Whether in addition to the obvious play on will ‘desire’ and Will in 
S 135, 136, and 143 there is some other hononymic or semantic pun is 
difficult to determine but seems probable, for suggestions see Tucker 
Brooke’s edition, pp 337 ff 

W ether-W hether 

The context shows, I think, that a pun on whether and wether is in- 
tended in TGV I I 80 f 

SPEED Why then my homes are his homes, whether I wake or 

PROTEUS A silly answere, and fitting well a Sheepe 

When in 2H4 2 4 278 Prince Hal calls Fal staff “this Nave of a Wheele,” 
he may merely be alluding to his rotundity or greasiness (see Inave- 
nave, above) But a play on wheal ‘pimple’ is perhaps not entirely im- 
probable in view of a similar pun on knob-nob J i i 147 (see above) 

Whte-Wight, O 21 133-4 

If she be blacke, and thereto have a wit, 

She’le find a whiter that shall her blacknesse fit 


The allusion to the Samson-Delilah story, m particular the seven green 
withes with which Delilah bound Samson (Judges 16 6 --g) is so obvious 
in LLL I 2 90-4 that it is impossible to doubt the existence of a pun on mt 
and with(e) in spite of certain phonological difficulties 

ARMADO Greene indeed is the colour of Lovers but to have a Love 
of that colour, methmkes Sampson had small reason for it He surely 
affected her for her wit 

MOTH It was so sir, for she had a greene wit 


A forced pun, occurring in LLL 5 i 65-6 

Offered by a childe to an olde man which is wit-old 

Compare the spelling wittold ‘wittol’ MWW 3 4 148 (Q) 



Womevr-We men 

There seems to be such a quibble ® in Berowne's long harangue in LLL 

Or Womens sake, by whom we men are Men 

Wood (n )-Wood (adj )-Wooed 

Demetrius, pursued by Helena while himself searching for Hermia, 
tries to ward her off by saying, MND 2 i 191-4 

Thou toldst me they were stolne into this wood , 

And heere am I, and wood within this wood^ 

Because I cannot meet my Hermia. 

Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more 

He IS not only wood 'furious^ because of his failure to find Hermia, he is 
also being wooed very persistently by Helena 
A pun on wood Svooden’ and wood "mad’ is generally assumed to be 
intended in TGV 2 3 30, where Launce is re-enacting the touching fare- 
well from his father and mother with the aid of a pair of shoes, supposedly 

Oh that she could speake now, like a te/owW-woman 

Theobald, who was the first to emend this would to wood, has been fol- 
lowed by all modern editors and OED, which lists would as a spelling of 
wood "mad ’ If so, would is an inverted spelling of wood, revealing the 
loss of I in would But there is really nothing in the whole scene to indi- 
cate that Launce’s shoes were wooden , indeed, the shoe with ""the worser 
sole,” which he named his mother, had a hole m it, a fact that rather points 
to leather as the material of his shoes In that case would may be a dialectal 
form of old or a spelling of wold 

Another pun on wood-wood is used in TNK 4 i 151 


Viola’s aside in TN i 4 40-2, after she has promised Orsino to woo 
Olivia on his behalf, contains a repetition of the syllable woo which can 
hardly be accidental ^ 

3 Lyly, Euphues p 241, has the same pun “I had thought that women had bene 
as we men, but I perceive they be rather woe unto men ” 

4 Cf Lyly, Gallathea i 2 3-5 “I would you knew these woods are to me so wel 
known, that I cannot stray though I would ” 



He do my best 

To woe your Lady yet a barrefull strife, 
Who ere I woe^ my selfe would be his wife 


The unvoicing of voiced consonants appears to have been a character- 
istic of Evans’ English, and thanks to this mispronunciation of his, Falstaff 
IS able to pun on words and worts in MWW i i 123-4 

EVANS Paucaverb, (Sir John) good 
FALSTAFF Good woTts ^ good Cabidgc 

Jack Cade, perhaps an Irishman by birth, since he called himself Morti- 
mer, may likewise have tended to unvoice final -rf , at any rate, there is a 
qUibble on zvord salad and zvorf salad in 2H6 4 10 11-12, 16 (see salad- 
sallet, above) 

W orms-W arms 

There is undoubtedly an allusion to the historic Diets of Worms m 
Hamlet’s answer to the King m H 4 3 20-3 

Not where he eats, but where he is eaten, a certaine convocation 
of wormes are e’ne at him Your wo^m is your onely Emperor for diet 


The Clown’s remark, H 5 i 177, that he had been '‘sixeteene [1 e , 
sexton] heere, man and Boy thirty yeares"' (see sexton-sixteen, above), 
suggests a pun on sexton here and sixteen year, both probably pronounced 
[sikstan 1 j] , thirty yeares should therefore be read [03 jti-ia], with no 
plural j as in the Clown’s next speech 

Y ew-Y our-U-Ewe 

The first pun, yezv^you,^ is used by Rosalind in AYL 3 2 124-9 

He graffe it with you, and then I shall graffe it with a Medler 
then it will be the earliest fruit I’th country for you’l be rotten ere 
you bee halfe npe, and that’s the right vertue of the Medler 

The second pun, involving yow-U-ezve, appears in LLL 5 i 54-60 
(note the mention of sheep and horns in the immediately preceding 

5 For an excellent parallel see Lyly, Sapho and Phao 3 4 77-84 



MOTH The last of the five Vowels if You repeat them, or the fift if I 

HOLOFERNES I Will repeat them a el 

MOTH The Sheepe, the other two concludes it o u 


Such a quibble seems to be intended in TGV 3 i 283, where vice, in 
addition to its usual meaning, also has that of ‘clown,’ with obvious refer- 
ence to the stock figure of the old moralities 

SPEED How now Signior Launce^ what newes with your Master- 

LAUNCE With my Masterships why, it is at Sea 
SPEED Well, your old vice still mistake the word 



One of the major differences between modern StE and late 16th- 
century pronunciation is the absence in the latter of certain diphthongs and 
diphthongmg tendencies which characterize our speech today Even if we 
regard [ju ] in new as a diphthong, Shakespeare's English had only four 
diphthongs, namely, [91] mhke, boil, [9u] m house, [ju ] in new, and the 
rare [di] in boy Instead of modern [^i] in tale, tail and [ou] in go, 
know. It had the pure long vowels ] and [o ], while the so-called cen- 
tering diphthongs corresponding to modern [ea], [19], [d 9], and [u9] 
in hear, ear, more, poor were scarcely yet diphthongs proper but retained 
in all probability the long vowels [e], [1 ], [o ], and [u ] before the 
glide that had developed befoie the weak [j] , in verse this glide could 
count as an unstressed syllable So far as one can judge today, there was 
no trace of the modern tendency to diphthongize [1 ] in see or [u ] m do 

Besides these diphthongs the language had the short vowels [se] in 
man, [§] in bed, fi] in sit, [d] in god, [u] in good, and [a] in bud, and 
the long vowels [ae ] in last, [a ] (possibly [a ]) in farm, [g ] in seal, 
sale, sail, [1 ] in see, teach, [o ] in go, know, [d ] in law, [u ] in moon, 
and [3 ] in bird , regional or class variants of some of these sounds need 
not concern us at the moment It is very important to remember that the 
quantity or relative length of a vowel was a significant characteristic, 
though the short vowels were probably somewhat different in quality 
from the corresponding long ones, particularly [i] and [u], the main dis- 
tinction between the pairs [se] and [se ], [^] and [^ ], [i] and [1 ] [d] 
and [d ], [u] and [u ] was that of length The modern tendency in cer- 
tain types of English to replace a combined qualitative and quantitative 
distinction by that of quality alone, ^ which seems to characterize Ameri- 
can English,^ was unknown in eNE On the other hand, great quantitative 
changes had just been completed or were still going on in Shakespeare's 
time, namely, the shortening of historically long vowels in words like 
deaf, heaven, gone, hot, good, foot and the lengthening of a and 0 before 
[f, s, 0, j] and of e, i, u before [1] That there was still much vacillation 
between an older, more conservative type of pronunciation and these new 

1 See Jones, The Pronmaatton of English, §§429 ff 

2 Kenyon, American Pronunciation, §76 




shortened or lengthened forms cannot be doubted, but there is little 
evidence of it in Shakespeare except in words like head and gone 

In the following analysis of Shakespeare’s stressed vowels and diph- 
thongs the sounds have been dealt with roughly in alphabetical order, each 
short vowel being followed by the corresponding long sound and the 
diphthong or diphthongs in which it occurs as the first element The basis 
IS, of course, the ME sound-system Vowels that had coalesced in Shake- 
speare’s language are discussed together except for ea (ME f) in sea, 
which required a separate chapter The order of treatment is therefore 
as follows ME a, d and ai, au, e, e, g, eu, I and ot, 6 , g and ou, q, u, u, 
er, tr, ur Within each chapter the isolative development of the vowel in 
question is usually treated first and then the combinative development, 
which is followed by a discussion of individual cases such as noteworthy 
rhymes, spellings, and the like As a rule, only words for which there is 
definite phonological evidence of one kind or another m Shakespeare have 
been discussed here, variant pronunciations which can be inferred only 
from external sources have occasionally been dealt with in the notes to 
the phonetic transcriptions of select Shakespeare passages (pp 343-368) 

a in man, far 

Though the early orthoepists are very slow in recognizing the qualita- 
tive difference between the English d in man, hat and continental d [a], it 
IS nevertheless evident that the English vowel did actually change dur- 
ing the 15th century We cannot, as Wyld (p 197) rightly emphasizes, 
rely too much on those orthoepists who peisist for about two hundred 
years in identifying the English sound with the French or Italian a, espe- 
cially since the peculiar character of the English vowel is difficult for 
anyone but a trained phonetician to analyze The conservatism of the 
early writers on English pronunciation will hardly surprise us if we re- 
member that [se] is *'by no means universal m the English dialects, 
whether Regional or Social, at the present time” (Wyld, p 197), [a] 
being in fact current in several dialects near London, e g , Bd, Hu, Bk, O, 
and Wa, and further that intermediate shades between [se] and [a] may 
also be heard (EDGr, §23) For this reason I think it is safe to assume 
that most speakers from these and other [a] -areas continued to use their 
native vowel even in London, where on the other hand the originally 
southeastern [se] was rapidly gaming ground during the 15th century, to 
become the accepted sound in polite circles by the end of the i6th cen- 
tury Wyld’s hypothesis of an early raising of [a] to [ae] , which seems 



very plausible, has been silently adopted even by the otherwise more con- 
servative Luick (§538), whose own unacceptable theory of a general 
unrounding of ME d to a presupposes a comparatively early change of 
ME d [a] > [se] 

As an actor Shakespeare may have found it expedient to exchange his 
native Wa [a] for the more fashionable London vowel [se], a sound that 
Ben Jonson may have meant when he said in his Grammar that a as in 
art, act, apple, ancient, was "hn most words pronounced lesse than 
the French a ’’ There is no vestige of evidence that [a] was deliberately 
used on the Elizabethan stage instead of the colloquial [se] ® 

The orthographic evidence of the postulated early change of a > [se] is 
meager, and usually not very reliable Thus nearly all the ^-spellings cited 
by Wyld (p 198) should be explained differently (mainly as doublets, or 
as misreadings) But Henslowe's Diary as transcribed by W W Greg 
provides a few ^-spellings which must reflect the new sound, if not the 
even closer variant [e], viz, ectes (acts, cf Mrs Quickly's exion dis- 
cussed below), Lengworth, mesacar (massacre), frencomsence (frank- 
incense), elexsander (i2x), elyxander, elex{s)andrea (2x), and the 
inverted forms brack{e)faste (4X) and nahiicadonizer (sx), nabycad- 
nazer, nabucadnazer, nabucadonizer (Nebuchadnezzar), unless the lat- 
ter show influence from the variant Nabuchadonosor Half a century 
earlier Machyn wrote Cre(n)mer (4x) and Brenford, as well as capt 
(kept) and prast (prest) Of considerable value, too, are the Dutch re- 
spellings from 1611 of the English surnames Besset (Basset), Bredfort 
(Bradford) Hendruw (Andrew), En (Ann), etc^ They reveal what 
had happened to ME a, as does sack for (vin) sec, spelled with a from 
the 1 6th century onward ® 

Of the ^-spellings for ME d in Shakespeare only two, exion 2H4 
2 I 33 and sendall H 4 5 26 (Q2), point conclusively to a raised sound 
The former may, however, be an intentional cockneyism, in which case 
Its e should be interpreted as [e] or [^] rather than as [se] , the latter has 

3 Yet [a] IS the vowel used by Jones m his reconstruction of Shakespeare’s pro- 
nunciation for the Lmguaphone Institute records “English Pronunciation through the 
Centuries ” 

4 Barnouw, §16 But Nes for Nash may go back to a variant with e 

5 OED explains sack as a hypercorrect pronunciation by those who used to say 
seek for sack an explanation that would involve popular association with the native 
word This is perhaps possible But rack (sb 2), said to be derived from MDu reck, 
IS recorded too early with a ( 1390) to be a case of sound-substitution as suggested by 
Ekwall, §49, Bense (p 312) doubts that rack is a Du loanword, and Serjeantson (p 
174) connects it with LG rakk 



an interesting parallel m a 15th-century Rutland document (OED) « 
Zenttppe TS i 2 71 is not quite conclusive, with its e appearing in the 
weakly stressed syllable, and dreg'd (dragged) H 4 i 35 (Q2) may be a 
misprint The remaining ^-spellings represent doublets with e, for which 
see OED exle tree 1H4 3 i 132 (Q , axle-tree F), reddish 2H4 3 2 334 
(Q, radish F), then T i i 22, etc (the usual spelling of than), thetchd 
T 4 I 63, thresh TC 2 i 51, were R J 3 5 144 (Q) , lettice LC 14 (< Fr 
laths), with similar ^-forms from the 15th century, may have obtained 
its abnormal e through analogical transference of the vacillation between 
the doublets lettuce and lattuce (for which see OED), to the homonym 
lattice Words of this type were probably pronounced with [§] by a large 
number of speakers ^ 

Shakespeare's rhymes are somewhat more revealing than the spellings 
of the text The following rhymes seem to me to indicate a similarity of 
sound between the reflexes of ME a and e, in other woids, a linking of 
[se] and [^] am gentlemen (but see below), at debt, back neck (2x), 
man again (2x), matter letter, perhaps also cat eat and had dead 
(if a rhyme at all) with shortening of ME f in eat, dead But Vietor (§30) 
errs in regarding scratch wretch as a safe instance of a rhyme m [se ] [^] , 
for wretch had a variant wratch < ME wracche < OE wrcccca (OED) 
In ran began than the spelling than (then) shows how that word was 
once pronounced, though not necessarily by Shakespeare 

No such rhymes are to be found in Spenser except the ambiguous hath 
death, nor do they occur in other 16th-century poets apait from a few 
scattered cases like matter better, man again, mad dead in popular 
ballads of uncertain date (i6th century^) and provenance This fact adds 
to the significance of the above Shakespearean rhymes as evidence of [se] 

The puns and jingles, too, confirm the existence of [de] for ME a 
Barrenness-bareness, cat-Kate—cates-catalogue, gravity-grave, and 
marry-merry appear to be based on close similarity rather than absolute 
identity of sound, and similarly mad-maid-^iade, though a variant of mad 
with d, spelled made, maad, is recorded from the 15th century (OED) , 
indeed, made (mad) is used in S 129 9 and TN 3 4 146, while made is 
spelled mad RL 1781 Knack-neck, too, belongs here, unless the 1540 
spelling cited above (p 120) indicates complete leveling with neck 

A few rhymes suggesting the linking of ME d and a are inconclusive 

6 In Enghsh Vowels, p 59, Zachnsson suggested that the following n might have 
been responsible for the raising of d to [se], but as Davis has shown (p 24), his Paston 
spellings hegen, fend, rensacLyd are not absolutely conclusive 

7 Butler (1634) gives lettuce and lattice as homonyms, and Hodges (1643) i eddish 
and radish 


because of the occurrence of doublets ® Like Spenser, who linked aw, 
spelled ame^ with camey shame, dame, same and shade with made glad, 
Shakespeare rhymed am name and sad shade A lengthened form of 
sad, reflected in the spelling sade (5~7, OED), or a shortened form of 
shade (spelled shad 5-7 < OE scead, OED) will explain the latter rhyme, 
whereas the former is more difficult to account for satisfactorily A 
lengthening of the shoit vowel in normally weakly stressed words is 
evidenced from ME ® and would result in am, perhaps reflected in Spen- 
ser’s spelling ame ^ Alternately, if there existed a late ME form em, as 
the quotations in OED seem to indicate,^ this could easily rhyme with 
[n^ m] (name) and similar words For the common rhymes have cave, 
grave, etc , and the pun have-heave see p 177, below Gate chat must 
originally have been based on a short form of gate, well evidenced in 
OED and in modern dialects (EDGr), and grapes m%shaps presupposes 
a ME doublet of qrape with a ( < OF grappe) Since the original form of 
iahe was bah (OED), the rhyme babe drab slab is exact, regardless of 
whether Shakespeare said [b^ b] or [bseb] The Schoolmaster’s rhyme 
jable rable iri TNK 3 5 105-6 looks as if it had been taken straight from 
Levins’ list of rhymes in able, which includes jable, gable, rable, table, 
bable, etc Or it may have come from Skelton, who in '‘The Tunning of 
Elinour Rumming” (beginning of Fit the Fifth) dashes off this string of 
rhymes rabble ladle cradle fabble sidesaddle babble , ^ here the vowel 
in fable was most certainly short On the other hand, Butler’s (1634) and 
Hodges’ (1643) triple homonyms babble-bauble-Babel, if exact, rather 
favor the assumption of a long vowel in babble and bauble,^ which may also 
be infer led from some of the spellings cited in OED , Gill (1621) gives a 
in bauble, which Shakespeare spells bable RJ 2 4 97 

Occasionally we find 0 for an expected a or interchanging with it as in 
chops M 1222, RL 1452, chopt (chapped) AYL 2448, JC 12247, 
T I I 60, choples H 5 I 97 (Q2 , chaplesse F), choppie M i 3 44, tod-pole 
L 3 4 135, toslell (tassel) TC 5 i 36 (Q), tottered (tattered) 1H4 4 2 38 

8 Dekker’s rhyme varied married is equally ambiguous because of Bullokar^s a 
in vary (p 28) and 16th-century forms varrte, varry, varrey (OED) Ben Jonson^s 
care I tarry is not much better because of the uncertain etymology of tarry 

9 Jordan, §156, Luick, §390 

1 Cf Rime, §§112, 268 

2 Gammer Gurton's Needle i 2 14 has chem for I am (otherwise cham) 

3 A short vowel in ladle, cradle is apparently characteristic of northern dialects 
today (EDGr), a fact of some interest, perhaps, in view of the uncertainty about 
Skelton’s origin But Peele, a Londoner, has three instances of craddle in Edward 1 

4 Eichler studiously avoids any reference to this set of homonyms, which, mci- 
dentally, occurs also in The Writing Scholar's Companion (1695) 



(Q , totter'd F), S 2 4, 26 ii, totters H 3 2 ii (Q), all of which go hack 
to doublets with 0 (see OED) But clatpoles TC 2 i 128 (Q) may be a 
misprint for clotpoles, the F reading, and so are clearly horrowes H i i 44 
(Q2, horrors Q) for harrowes (F), obsque (absque) 2H4 5 5 30, plot- 
forme ® O 2 3 125 (Q), and postures H5 3 7 13 for pasterns (cf the 16th- 
century form pastour, OED) Anatomy and its derivatives frequently 
appear with 0 for the stressed (second) a from the 14th century on 
(OED) , in Shakespeare wefind both aw(w)o^Ao7?iz-2r^(d) 2H4pr2i (Q), 
LLL 4 I 69, and anat{h)omtBe{d) 2H4 pr 21 (F), RL 1450, as well as 
the aphaeretic atomy 2H4 5 4 32 (Q), with the first syllable erroneously 
taken to be the indefinite article For Atomies RJ i 4 57 (F) the Q2 read- 
ing IS ottamie Dotchet Mead MWW 3 3 14 agrees with the 1530 form 
Docket for Datchet ® 

Traces of the old, southern o for a before nasal consonants remain m 
strond(s) 1H4 i i 4, 2H4 i i 62, H8 5 4 56, MV i i 171, RL 1436, and 
in TS I I 175, where it rhymes with hand, as well as in the rhymes man on 
(2x, the couplet is repeated) and man one The persistent use of 0 in 
strand {the Strand in H8) very likely indicates the survival of an old- 
fashioned pronunciation [strond], soon to be superseded by the more 
modern [strsend], which despite the conservative spelling may have been 
intended in the rhyme with hand, yet [d] is still heard in the Wa dialect 
in hand, land, thank, man, as well as in one,^ and such pronunciations may 
have been current also m Queen Elizabeth's London For am Tom, 
which is definitely dialectal, see p 224, below Otherwise hand rhymes 
with command (3x) and land with command, countermand, but it is im- 
possible to decide from these instances whether the vowel in command, 
countermand was [se] or [se ] , the latter seems the more plausible in 
view of the evidence from other sources concerning the lengthening of 
the vowel in such positions (see below) , if so, these rhymes are tradi- 
tional Asconce S no 6, TS 2 i 249 is perhaps the result of popular asso- 
ciation with sconce, the early vacillation of which between 0 and a was 
transferred to askance But the spelling sonties (saints) MV 2 2 47 goes 
back to ME (OED) , its ending -les is simply the plural [iz], which evi- 
dently survived in the stock asseveration be Gods sonties (see p 265, 

5 In plotforme the vacillation between plat and plot may have been a contributory 
factor It is not inconceivable, however, that 0 in obsque and plotforme is a substitu- 
tion for the Lat and Fr a Such substitution is a fact in sconce, whose o far better ren- 
ders the low back short [a] of Du schans than would a (= [ae] ) 

6 Spelled Dochett 1547, Dotchatt 1626, see PN Bk, p 234 

7 EDGr, Index Collins has heard [a] in man from old speakers, otherwise [a] 
before -nd, except m gander, which has la] 



In the latter half of the i6th century ME a before [f, s, 0 ] was cer- 
tainly a long vowel [se ], though direct evidence is scanty ® The ortho- 
epists are slower than usual in recognizing the lengthened sound, Cooper 
(1685) being in fact the first to do so, ® perhaps deans ^ which Gill (1621) 
reports as an easternism for dance, is meant to indicate this [as ], which 
would not have been too different from his own [e ] or [^ ] in mean ^ Re- 
liable phonetic spellings are lacking, and the rhyme material is too am- 
biguous to justify safe conclusions The only possible indication of length- 
ening m Shakespeare is the jingle feast-fast, which would be quite 
effective if the two words were pronounced [fg st] and [fae st], respec- 
tively, but [fest]-[f3est] would, of course, do just as well The very 
doubtful rhyme wrath death (2x) is equally inconclusive Tjurath may 
have had [ae] or [ae ] and death [^] or [^ ], while wrath hath provides 
no clue to the problem of lengthening ^ Nor do we get any help from the 
common rhymes fast haste, taste, waist, last haste, taste, etc , because, 
whether traditional or not,® they may have been based on a variant of 
haste, taste, etc , with a, as is the modern pronunciation of vast , these 
rhymes will be discussed below, p 176 This is true also of the puns ace- 
ass and grace-grass j which could have been pronounced with [ae] or [ae ] , 
alternatively grace might have had [^ ] and grass [ae ] or a dialectal [?] 
(it IS the clown who is punning), with little or no distortion of the pro- 
nunciation necessary for the pun to be picked up by the audience Swarths 
(swaths) TN 2 3 162 obviously had a long vowel, for otherwise there 
could hardly have been this confusion of swath and swarth, now said to be 
dialectal but first recorded in 1552 (OED) 

There are complications, however, which tend to obscure the issue 
Craft rhymes with doffed, spelled daft like the nonrhyming instances of 
the word listed on p 225, below Now if craft had [ae ], as suggested 
above, the same vowel would naturally be expected in dajt, provided of 

8 See Wyld, pp 203 f , who hesitatingly, and forgetting that ME a had just be- 

come raised to [ae], assumes that lengthening took place by the end of the 15th 
century, and Luick, §554, who favors the end of the i6th or the beginning of the 
17th century But I disagree with Luick, Wyld, and other scholars when they main- 
tain that It is this eNE [se ] that was later lowered and retracted to [a ] In my 
opinion modern St E [a ] comes from another (regional or social) dialect, which did 
not raise ME & to [se] but retained it as [a] , see the reasons given in Mather Flint, 
pp 87 ff , and p 168, below * 

9 Hafe and save for half and salve in Price (1665) represent variants with [§ ] 
like modern dialectal [(h)§ f] (EDGr), not the lengthened [ae ] as suggested by 
Ekwall, §43 Cf Henslowe’s spelling hafe 

1 See my article “Alexander Gill,” pp 287 f 

2 Spenser rhymes wrath hath and hath death, see Rime, §§ii 4 » 116, 282 

3 These rhymes are frequent in Spenser {Rime, §i 18) and other 16th-century poets 



course that the rhyme is perfect But neither [se ] nor [se] is a likely 
sound in daff, since its a is the result of an eNE unrounding of d ( < orig- 
inal q) and should, therefore, represent a short or long [a] or [a] 
Leveling of ME d and d has taken place only in those dialects that have 
retained [a] for ME a, one or two isolated cases of [se] for ME d here, if 
genuine,^ are hypercorrect forms that have arisen under the influence of 
a vacillation within the dialect between vernacular [a] and St E [se] for 
ME d In an area where ME d regularly became [se], eg , in Mx, the 
new d < 0 could have developed into [se] only if the unrounding of 
o > a had occurred in ME , but we seem to have no evidence of this 
before the beginning of the 15th century ® Moreover, Gill’s repudiation of 
skderz for skolars must refer to [a] for [d] ® If consequently daft had 
[a ], or possibly [a ], it follows that craft must have had the same vowel 
But this [a ] or [a ] in craft cannot possibly be a development of [se ] < 
earlier [ae] , like modern St E [a ] in after, pass, bath, it must have orig- 
inated in those dialects that retained [a] for ME d in independent posi- 
tions, e g , Bd, Hu, O, and from there have infiltrated certain types of 
London speech, eventually to oust the other vowel [se ] I find it impos- 
sible to accept the current view that ME d, viz , [a] j’’ was raised to [se] 
by the end of the isth century and then lengthened to [se ] by the end 
of the 1 6th, only to be lowered again and retracted to [a ] within the next 
century or so This is too much in too short a time Moreovei, [se ] re- 
mains in a great many dialects and has become the standard sound in 
American English Only the assumption of parallel developments as out- 
lined above can satisfactorily explain the rise of modern St E [a ] and 
reconcile the conflicting statements of the later grammarians ® 

The testimony of craft daft is to a certain extent corroborated by the 
multiple rhyme caught her daughter slaughter halter after lattled off 
by the Fool in L i 4 340-5 Here after, apparently pronounced [a toj] as 
commonly in modern dialects, is made to rhyme with ME ait words, which 
must therefore have had the same vowel [a ] (but see below) Even if the 
Fool’s rhyme was meant to be vulgar or dialectal, it only reveals the 
existence of [a ] or [a ] for ME df in London about 1600 Moreover, the 
fact that Ben Jonson rhymes water daughter slaughter after in his epi- 

4 See EDGr, §§82 f, which on the whole agrees with Ellis’ material For the 
situation in Do see Widen, §35 4, n 

5 Jordan, §272 (but note §35, Anm i), Wyld, p 240, see also below, p 223 

6 See my article “Alexander Gill,” p 285 

7 The quality of late ME a was doubtless [a], not [a] as usually given in transcrip- 
tions of Chaucer’s pronunciation, e g , in Moore, §31, where even ME 5, which was to 
become [ge ] shortly after Chaucer’s death, is given as [a ] 

8 See also my discussion in Mather Flint, pp 83 f , 87 ff , and above, p ii 


gram '"On the Birth of Lady Mary'’ ^ lends considerable weight to the 
assumption that [a ] or possibly [a ] — ^the precise shade is difficult to estab- 
lish — ^was at that time already the colloquial variant of [ae ] in ajter and 
other words of the same category 

Shakespeare's vowel m father is as difficult to ascertain The rhymes 
father rather and unfathered gathered, if not traditional, indicate the 
existence of the same vowel in the three words, and there is a wide variety 
of vowels to choose from Bullokai had a in father, gather, 7 ather, whereas 
Hart and Gill give both a and d in father (Gill also in rather) Hart's and 
Gill's d in father is the antecedent of the now dialectal [? ] m that word 
with which Shakespeare was familiar, provided we can depend on the 
rhymes father hither and father labor (the latter, however, in the non- 
Shakespearean part of P) , ^ since hither was usually pronounced with e, 
the former rhyme seems to be between ] and [^] We shall be on the 
safe side, I think, if we assume that Shakespeare knew at least two pro- 
nunciations of fathei, one with either [ae ] or [a ], the other with [^ ], 
which by the way is still current in Wa 

When we come to ME dr, the picture is less blurred Words of this 
category have [a ] in modern St E , and I am convinced that a similar 
sound was used by Shakespeare and his fellow actors , again the exact 
quality is difficult to establish, but there are good reasons for the assump- 
tion that the vowel was perhaps closer to [a ] than to [a ] For one thing, 
[a ] would be the natural transitional sound between [a] and modern 
[a ] , and, secondly, [a ] is still the normal vowel in Wa for ME dr, dr ^ 
and for ME arm eg. East Anglia ® The ar-words, of couise, rhyme with 
one another, e g , arm harm, paf t art, and with ^?r-words as in art con- 
vert, impart desert, thereby confirming the leveling of dr and er with- 
out, however, indicating the quality of their common vowel Far more 
illuminating is the linking of ar with or and of ar with voar m the following 
rhymes arms storms, change George, departure shorter, harm corn, 
heart short (3x), part short ( 2 x) , afar scar war, are war, bar war, 
barred reward, charmed harmed zvarmed, far war, guard (re) ward, 
harm warm, heaid reward, heard regaid zvard, heart athwart, ]ar 
war, scars zvars, sharp warp, stars wars (2x) They must indicate 
that the normal vowel heard m dr was [a ] or [a ] and that it can- 

9 Newdigate, p 283 

1 For the rhyme father heir see below, p 322 

2 According to Collins EDGr reports the St E [a ] here, but since it does not 
distinguish between a in G Mann and a in English father, the value of Wright’s symbol 
d is far from clear See further p 226, n 2, below 

3 Sf Dial , %%2, % 2^ 



not possibly have been the [ae ] that all handbooks on eNE phonology, 
except Jespersen's Modem English Grammar,^ want us to assume Since 
Spenser and other 16th-century poets rhyme in exactly the same fashion, 
It may reasonably be argued that Shakespeare’s rhymes are traditional and 
that consequently [ae j] for is a theoretical possibility, even if such a 
pronunciation cannot be inferred from his rhymes Admittedly in those 
days [se ] may have occurred as a variant of [a ] but not as the ante- 
cedent of modem [a ] The latter must be directly descended from an 
eNE a, which was not raised to [ae] before r but remained [a] until it 
was lengthened simultaneously with [a] < ME d before [f, s, 0 ] Even- 
tually it ousted the variant [ae ], which had developed concurrently from 
eNE [ae] < ME d and which some of the early orthoepists seem to have 
used , today [ae ] for ME dr survives only in a few dialects As an indirect 
proof of the existence of [a ] or [a ] about 1600 we may regard the sur- 
vival in New England speech of such a vowel for ME d before [f, s, 0 , r], 
whereas General American has [ae] for ME d before [f, s, 0 ] and [a] for 
ME dr The New England vowel can hardly be a late adoption of St E 
[a ], from which as a rule it is qualitatively different, being actually much 
closer to [a ] than to [a ] , ® it must, in other words, be a direct continua- 
tion of the earlier [a ] < [a] postulated above, for there is, as Krapp (3, 
80) points out, "'no evidence to indicate that any single pronunciation which 
has become general m American has become so through imitative influ- 
ence of British pronunciation This statement is no less true of New Eng- 
land [a ] than it is of General American [ae] and [a] in the above group 
of words , they mirror the linguistic situation in 17th-century England 

Even more significant than this New England survival of [a ] is the 
orthographic evidence which confirms the testimony of the above rhymes 
between ME dr and dr Since this will be fully dealt with under ME d. 
It IS sufficient to say here that it proves the dialectal unrounding of ME 
dr and its leveling with dr even m certain types of London speech Seen in 
relation to the characteristic [a ] for ME dr heard m many modern dia- 
lects, with no trace of [ae ] , it warrants the assumption that these rhymes, 
while in a sense traditional, were exact and that their common vowel was 
some kind of [a ] or [a ] An analysis of the remaining rhymes listed 
above, those of -ar with war, which will be discussed below, bears out the 
correctness of this assumption 

From the Jingle marry-nierry one would feel inclined to conclude that 
ME dr followed by a vowel shared the development of independent ME 
(^> [ae] On the other hand, the proverbial antithesis of married and 

4. In particular §§io 61 ff 

S See Kurath, p 289, Kenyon, §§281 ff , 288 and Krapp, 2, 63 f 



marred would rather seem to indicate the use of [a] in married or possibly 
[as ] in marredy which might even be inferred from the jingle made- 
marred y but since make or mar is a century-old saying (OED), no 
phonological conclusion can be drawn from the mainly alliterative use of 
made and marred in RJ i 2 12 f As for marned-marredy this is simply a 
carry-over from ME times when the two words had the same vowel [a] 
and marred may have had an analogical [ad] 

There is hardly any trace in Shakespeare of the rounding effect of pre- 
vocalic w upon a The only rhyme that points to such rounding is what 
woty so does dialectal vor (warrant) L 46246 and perhaps also the 
spellings wonton R3 i i 17, wondnngly P 3 3 7, and quandom H5 2 i 82 
(QI“3) quondam, unless they are merely misprints For the pun 
ward-word see below Otherwise Shakespeare rhymes in a strictly tradi- 
tional manner swan can, wan many want enchant, grant (2x), pant, 
scant (2x), vaunt (spelled vant), was glass (2x), grass, lass, pass 
(3x), watch match, and water flatter, matter (3X) ® Literally inter- 
preted, these rhymes suggest the use of [ae] in swan, want, etc The exist- 
ence of [se] in some forms of eNE speech can hardly be doubted,^ and 
there are sporadic survivals of it in southwestern dialects Shakespeare’s 
own vowel may have been [a] or [a] in most of the words under discus- 
sion as in the modern Wa dialect, but we do not know whether either 
vowel had any currency in 16th-century London English, [a] would, of 
course, be the normal transitional stage in the rounding of [a] to [d] and 
[d ] ® Several 17th-century spellings quoted by Wyld from the Verney 
memoirs show that the rounding had taken place at least as early as 1600 , ® 
place-name forms like Woppm 1650 (Wappmg, Mx), Whabshete 1430 
(Wapshot, Sr, < OE wop) and Worley 1547 (Warley, E) are unfor- 
tunately inconclusive, since they hail from areas in which ME 0 was fre- 
quently unrounded to a But Hodges’ (1643) equation of wad and woad 
(probably with eNE shortening of its ME g) should be accepted as evi- 
dence of [d] in wad In the choice between [ae], [a], and [d], all of 
which may have been heard simultaneously in London, our preference will 

6 For identical rhymes in Spenser see Rime, §§123, 132 f 

7 Wyld, pp 202 f , Ekwall, §27 

8 Luick, §538, assumes [a] to have been the current sound for wa- from the end 
of the 1 6th to the latter half of the i8th century, when according to his views the 
rounding to [o] finally occurred’ This hypothesis, which is at variance with the 
available evidence, fits his impossible theory concerning the development of ME d 
in the space of approximately two hundred years it is presumed to have changed 
from [o] or [d] to [a] > [x>] 

9 Wyld, p 202 , but Wyld’s 14th-century o-spellings are all inconclusive, since they 
reflect ME doublets with 0 



depend on whether we believe in the use of a conservative type of pronun- 
ciation on the Elizabethan stage, m this particular case [a], or whether 
we are willing to concede that a more modern, colloquial variant, that is, 
[d], had already got a foothold there I myself favor the latter alterna- 
tive, which alone can satisfactoiily explain the occurrence of its length- 
ened equivalent [o ] m a few instances One of these is the pun Waiter- 
mater (given as homonyms by Dames m 1640 and by Hodges in 1643), 
which suggests a long vowel in water, very likely [o ] , several other pro- 
nunciations of that word are, however, still current dialectally, and their 
antecedents may well have been heard in London at that time 

Literally interpreted, rhymes like jar war, haim warm, etc (see the 
list on p 169, above), suggest the same vowel in the rhyming words, but 
nothing further The assumption of an [a ] sound in jar, harm would then 
automatically mean [a ], or possibly the more retracted variant [a ], m 
war, maim and similar words Such a vowel [a ] or [a ] is still character- 
istic of many modern dialects, including Wa,^ and it would therefore be 
reasonable to infer that this was also Shakespeare's vowel in war, warm, 
etc , even though the rhymes happen to be traditional , on the other hand, 
a linking of [a ] and [a ] seems a distinct possibility What complicates 
the matter, however, is not only the pun wards-words but also the unmis- 
takable evidence of [wd] for ME wd- from the first half of the 17th cen- 
tury, including Shakespeare’s homonyms Waiter-wafer (see above) Now 
if independent ME wd- had already become [wd] , then it ought to follow 
that Its lengthened product must have been [o ] or at least [d ] in war, 
warm With regard to wards-words it should be noted, first, that ward 
is sometimes spelled word{e) in the i6th and 17th centuries, very likely 
indicating a pronunciation [wo jd] or [wo jd] , secondly, that today we 
have no evidence of [a ] < ar < dr m word, though [o ] is reported from 
Nh and La This [0 ] may either have developed directly from a ME 
doublet word (see further p 254, below) or reflect a 16th-century dialectal 
variant with [0 ] or [0 ] < ME word (cf modern [fo d] < ME jord) 
Such a pronunciation of word would give a perfect pun on [wo jd] < 
waid, but I cannot see how a pun would be possible if ward were pro- 
nounced with [a ] or [a ] Hence I like to regard Costard’s pun wards- 
words, whether dialectal or not, as indicating the existence at that time 
of [0 ] for ME zvar, presumably as the colloquial variant of a more con- 
servative pronunciation with [a ] But the form green-sord WT 44 157 
cannot be adduced m support of war > [wo i] , for as its loss of w shows. 
It must go back to an eNE or late ME variant with [wu ] , unrecorded but 
I Not given in EDGr, but recorded by Collins 


perhaps to be postulated from an earlier swgrd < sw^rd < OE sward 
(Luick, §773) 

a in tale^ at m tatl 

Long before Shakespeare’s time, probably in the first half of the 15th 
century, ME d and ai had become leveled in the incipient Standard lan- 
guage ^ Their common sound, once [ae ], had by this time been raised to 
approximately [^ ], especially in view of the further coalescence in fash- 
ionable speech of ME d/at and ME | This ] is sufficiently near [e ] 
acoustically to explain the usual i6th-centuiy compaiison of English a, 
at with the vowel in Fr etre ® It is therefore not necessary to postulate [e ] 
for ME d/atj though that sound may still have been used by some speakers 
instead of [^ ] Then, as now, there were, of course, dialects that preserved 
the old distinction between d and at, pronouncing the latter as a diphthong, 
but these exerted no lasting influence on early St E Whether Gill’s alleged 
diphthong for ME at was dialectal or, rather, an archaic-pedantic mode 
of pronunciation is consequently of small concern here , he certainly knew 
of the monophthongal pronunciation of at, which he regarded as an affecta- 
tion by the Mopsae They used to say meds, pre, pie (his e is approxi- 
mately [^ ] ) instead of matds, prat, plat, and their vowel m capon was not 
a (that IS, [a ] or [ae ] ) but the very same e, which to him sounded almost 
like ^(=[i])^We can therefore be absolutely certain that a monoph- 
thong was the current colloquial sound for at in London about 1600 and 
that the common vowel for ME d and at was most likely [§ ] 

There is ample proof in Shakespeare of the leveling of ME d and at 
Let us begin with the orthographic material ME d is spelled at {ay, et) 
in the following words hatle (bale) C i i 167, hatne (bane) TC 4 2 98, 
bam' d MV 4 i 46, hatte (bate) MV 4 i 72, unbatted H 4 7 139 {unbated 
Q2),® Datntry (Daventry) 3H6 516, haild (haled) TS 5 i lii, matle 
(male) 3H6 5615 (Q), rats'd (lased) L 144, saile (sale) H 2 i 60, 
bulltes tatle MWW 2331 (Q, bully-stale F), tatne (ta’ne) L 5 2 6 (Q), O 

2 See, e g , Jordan, §284, Wyld, pp 247 f , Bullokar, pp 38 if 

3 For a discussion of these identifications see Zachrisson, English Vowels, pp 124 f 
It IS of considerable interest, I think, that Wodroephe (1623) renders ai m tailleur, 
atlleurs, entrailles by aa-ee (he writes aan for ane) , vous mimes by voomaimes, and 
chair by shair , his was clearly a monophthongal pronunciation of ai, a fact that Zach- 
risson fails to mention 

4 Logonomia Anglica, p 33 , see also Wyld, p 249, and my article “Alexander 
Gill,*' pp 279, 286 f 

5 For hayted 1H4 4 1 99 see VarEd , pp 252 ff , and Kittredge, p 581 



3 3296 {Q),m%staine^] 53 203 {mtstaneQ2),traidersTCs 1046 (Q),® 
vaile TC I 2 3, vaine (vane) MA 3 3 138, veine LLL 4 i 97 {vaine Q), 
waine (wane) H 3 4 (Q), warned 3H6 4 7 4> ’ouatmng R3 3 7 185, 4 4 4> 
watnyng RL 142, waymng S 126 3, TS pr 2 65, 2 i 403 Conversely ME at 
IS spelled a m dame H 5 2 40 1 ( Q2 ) , unredamed H 2 i 34, daste H 4 5 1 84 
{Q2),jaters,{hxto\irs) 2H424 173 {Q,jates¥),male (mail) TC3 3 152, 
nahored H 2 2 12 (Q2), toppe-sale T i i 7, tale (tail) MV 2 2 loi (Q), 
Tale-Porter WT 4 4 273, afwane O 52 206 (Q) , vale (vail) C 3 i 98, TS 
5 2 176, walefull TGV 3 2 69 For Came colottrd MWW i 4 23, spelled 
kane colored m Q, see OED, Arden edition, p 49, and CaEd , p 109 
Same LLL 52463 (Q) is doubtless a misprint for same (zany), and 
mame AW 4 5 41 is probably an error for name (so emended in most edi- 
tions) Note also mor du vtnager AW 2 3 50 for mort du vinatgre, a good 
phonetic spelling showing the approximate value of d Waste H 2 2 236, 
1H4 2 4 364, 1H6 4 3 20, S 129 I, T I 2 197 for waist is the historical 
spelling, now superseded by waist thanks to Dr Johnson , it appears as wast 
H I 2 198 (Q2, F), with the meaning ‘middle* (‘‘affectedly used,** OED), 
the Q spelling vast being an obvious misprint ® Gate (gait) WT 44 756 
and male (mail) LLL 3 i 74 are the historically correct spellings, the 
former was regular before the i8th century (OED) ® 

Shakespeare*s rhymes tell the same story as the above spellings He 
rhymes again mane, shame (2x), bait state, height gate, may be lady 
{2x), plain game, straight gate, great, seat, slam tdne,wa%t gate, pre- 
vail weal, prevails scales, and claim jrame, remain dame, which are 
ambiguous, since claim and remain, like aim, had ME doublets with 
Victor (§36), who thought that Syria say hardly looked Shakespearean 
did not know that Shakespeare also rhymed Bianca stay, Helena away 
unsay. May, Ophelia May, that Spenser and other poets had similar 

6 Trattours TC 5 1037 is probably a misprint for traders and, if so, another in- 
stance of at in that word 

7 There were OF doublets of this word with a and at 

8 It IS strange that Kittredge did not realize that wast, like waste stood for waist , 
taking wast to mean waste, he argued for the superioiity of the Q reading vast (p 
1030) For the wordplay waist^waste see p 152, above 

9 Henslowe has lade (laid), stramnge (straining), naler (nailer), and paynes 
(panes), as well as the significant spellings arkeadian, arkedian (Arcadian) and 
hewode, hawode (Heywood) 

I See, e g , Jordan, §233, Anm i, and OED Spenser has numerous rhymes be- 
tween ME 5 and at, for which see Rime, §57 The rhyme may be lady occurs also 
in The Pepys Ballads, i, 259, and A Handful of Pleasant Delights, p 12 Peele uses it 
too Dekker rhymes obeyd trade, and in Gammer Gurton*s Needle we find fail ale, 
tail ale, lasy dcnsy 


rhymes,® and that Henslowe spelled Cressida creasse daye, creasseday, 
forms revealing how such names were then pronounced , note also sesey 
(cessa) L 3 4 104, spelled sese L 3 6 77 For equally illuminating rhymes 
between ME d/m and § see p 198, below 

The Jingles and the puns fully confirm the evidence of the spellings and 
the rhymes The repeatedly used pun tale-tml, apparently a favorite with 
the Elizabethans, refutes Bradley’s assertion (p 544) that a pun on sml 
and sale would hardly have been recognized Indeed, puns depending on 
the coalescence of ME d, ai, and e are by far the commonest type in Shake- 
speare Besides tale-tml we find atm-name, hait-bafe-beatj clatm-cleam, 
fa-fay, fattours— features, made-mad-niaid, matl-male-meal, main-meant, 
re-ray, raisin-reason-raising, say-sea, and abased-a beast, eat-hate, have- 
heave, haven-heaven, case-quae's, grace-grass-grease, stale (r)-steal (er) , 
as well as the probably dialectal shape-§heep ® 

There are very few conclusive spellings showing the leveling of ME 
d/ai with f , they will be discussed on p 198, below Flea L i 4 330 for 
flay, with the p pie fled WT 4 4 655, goes back to OE flMn, ME fli(n), 
which would also have been pronounced with [? ] in Shakespeare’s time, 
cf Hodges’ (1643) homonyms flea-flay Seated S 62 10 may stand for 
bated as suggested by some editors, but there is nothing to forbid the 
postulation of a weak pple of beat Ne AW 2 i 176, sometimes emended 
to nay, may be a misprint for na, a 16th-century variant spelling, unless it 
IS, after all, a survival of the old ne ‘nor ’ For sneaping LLL i i 100, etc , 
a variant of snaping, see OED I cannot see any reason for emending 
meete MWW 55 121 to mate as proposed in CaEd (p 132),^ since 
meete may well mean ‘to have a rendezvous’ (Schmidt, Lexicon) Debt, 
broken TmA 2 2 38 (“With clamorous demands of debt, broken Bonds”), 
which is usually emended to date-broke(n), looks like a genuine case of 
mishearing on the part of a secretary, revealing the expected qualitative 
identity of [^] in debt and ] in date — cf the jingles main-^eant and 
mean-^en ® — ^but debt may be the printer’s misinterpretation of a spell- 

2 Spenser rhymes day, lay, pray, say, sway, (a) wav Adicia, Aemtha, Cynthia, 
Hama, Menevia, Proserptna, Remora, Tedula (Rtme, §57) 

3 Similar puns and jingles occur in Lyly face-faith (i, 221), race^aise (2, 318), 
inferpreter-interprater {2, 406), unstaid-^nsteady (5, 138) 

4 Even if meat and mate were homonyms, as Wilson rightly points out with a 
reference to Wyld, p 210, meet and mate certainly were not However, if, in the MS, 
mate had been spelled meate, the printer might easily have mtei preted this spelling 
as meete But no emendation is necessary here 

5 If beget late, citadel tale, and rest waste are genuine rhymes, they would 
be further examples of this linking of [§] and [§ ] , they are doubtful cases, however. 



ing deate for date For the spellings attendtire (attainder) H8 2 1 41, 
quently (quaintly) H 2 i 31 (Q2), implying the existence of phonetic 
doublets with e, see Zachrisson, Enghsh Vowels, p 67 , tanted MV 3 2 75, 
qment (quaint) T 3 3 SD, and dtntier (daintier) H S i 78 (Q2) are 
most likely printer's errors 

It IS indeed hard to say whether the rhymes haste blast, fast (8x), 
last, past ( 2 x), taste fast (3X), last (4x), waste past, waist fast, and 
face has, place ass actually leveal anything about Shakespeare's pro- 
nunciation Frequent with 16th-century poets,® they may already have 
become eye rhymes by this time , if so, haste, taste, etc , had the normal 
vowel ], which rhymed with the [se ] of fast, last, etc Ultimately these 
rhymes presuppose variants of haste, taste, waste, waist, face, and place 
with unlengthened a, which would regularly have developed like a in 
vast < ME vast If we can trust Bullokar's ‘'amended orthography," 
such doublets with a short vowel survived at the end of the i6th century, 
he transcribes ace, grace, mace, brace, embracing, misplace, tasted with 
short a ® Similarly Butler (1634) couples haste and hast, waist, zvaste, and 
wast as being pronounced alike, while Hodges (1643) gives Laste-hast, 
paste-past, and waste-wast as homonyms Short forms of ace and grace 
seem almost essential for the puns ace-ass and grace-grass, unless we as- 
sume considerable distortion of the vowel m ace and grace (of [§ ] to 
[se ] ) for the sake of the pun Moreover, we cannot altogether ignore the 
evidence of the spellings chast RL 1839, WT 3 2 133, embrast MWW 
3 5 75 . R3 4 4 383 (Qi -5 > F), hast RJ 2 5 29, etc , VA 909, 

tast 1H4 2 4 500 (Q), RJ I 3 30, 2 3 72, VA 164, wast RJ i 4 45, 2 3 71, 
and conversely vaste (vast) TmA 43440, haste (hast) ® 3H6 2580 
(Q), TC 31117 (Q) It IS not unlikely, therefore, that Shakespeare 
used the doublets with ME d in the above rhymes and puns, pronouncing 
them with [se ] like last, past, etc But by the side of this doubtless con- 
servative pronunciation he must have known and used another, more col- 

for they occur m otherwise unrhymed passages In a sense the rhymes effeminate Ju- 
liet, pilgrimage sedge with their metrically stressed endings -ate and -age might be 
interpreted in the same way , but see the discussion on pp 267 ff , below 

6 For similar rhymes m Spenser see Rime, §118 They are found, moreover, in 
Totters Miscellany, A Handful of Pleasant Delights, and in Gascoigne, Guilpm, 
Hawes, etc 

7 Jordan, §224 

8 Bullokar,p 28 

9 Hast like have may have had a variant with a, in which case Butler^s and 
Hodges^ hasie-hast is irrelevant for our purpose Note that Lyly, Euphues (p 193), 
plays on testy and hasty in a way that suggests dose similarity of sound ‘‘you testie 
without cause, we hastie for no quarrell ** 


loquial and probably more common, with [5 ], reflected, eg , in his pun 

The rhymes gate chat, grapes mishaps, babe drab slab, fable rabble, 
am name, shade sad have all been dealt with above (p 165) and so 
have the puns mad-maid-made and cat-Kate-cates-catalogue (p 164) , 
for aptsh foppish see p 224, below Spellings like bad (bade) T i 2 194, 
forbad C 5 i 12, earnin' st (earnest) R3 1485, sate AYL 2 7115, and 
scath R3 I 3 317 are historically justified, see OED Slalt RL 425 may 
stand for slacked or slaked, cf bakt-meats H i 2 180 Shamefac'd R3 
I 4 141, spelled sham {e) fast Qi~ 5 , shows the effect of popular etymology 
cf smooth-fast e R3 5 5 33 (Q1-2, smooth-fac'd F), where of course the 
F spelling IS correct The pun Ajax-a Jakes may imply [ae] in both words 
or more likely [§ ], since the second a in Ajav was originally long (L 
Atax) Shakespeare spelled his own name Shakspere (2x) and Shak- 
speare,^ thus indicating a short vowel [se] (Warwickshire [a] ) in the 
first syllable, cf also the contemporary spellings Shackspeare, Shaxpere 

The old stressed form of have with ME d, that is, [q ] m this period 
(cf modern behave), is the basis of the rhymes have cave, crave (2x), 
gave, grave (13X), slave ( 4 x) and of the pun have-heave, the cor- 
responding contracted form ha't (have it) rhymes with Kate and is spelled 
hate H 2 2 565, 4 7 157, 5 2 354 (all Q2 , F has ha't and have't) No doubt 
the restressed form [hasv] was used concurrently 

ME at has become shortened in pray thee, variously spelled preethe(e) 
1H4 216 (Q), O 2 I 209 (Q), prethee T i 2 246, etc , prythee 3H6 
i486, pritht P 4640 This unusual development should probably be 
related to the West Midland monophthongization of ME at > §, which 
IS responsible for the modern pronunciation of key li so, the postulated 
ME f was shortened to e and then raised to t like get > gtt Again appears 
as agen AYL 3 2 62, H8 4 2 29, TN i i 4, etc , and in the rhymes again 
amen, countrymen, Imogen, men, pen, then, when, in which it is spelled 
agen and agatne Like said, spelled sed AW i 3 146, H52333 (Q), 
MWW 2 3 93 (Q), and says, spelled ses MWW 2 3 29 (Q), 4 5 36, 37, 
P 4 I 62, it goes back to a doublet with e < ME e At the same time the 
variant with [^ ] < ME at was certainly in common use, to judge by the 
frequency of rhymes like again vain Except for said read (pple), 
which points to the short vowel in said, this word rhymes exclusively with 

words, and so does says, it is clear, therefore, that [§ ] was still used 
as a variant of [^] in said, says Shortening seems to have taken place 
also in either, neither, both rhyming with hither, which usually had 

1 Tannenbaum, pp 107, 152 

2 Cf Jordan, §94, Anm i 



e <ty and neither with together , whether, and whither, spelled whether — 
note also the spelling ethers (either’s) S 28 5 , these short forms, which 
occur, e g , m Bullokar and are still characteristic of many dialects, in- 
cluding Wa, go back to ME (n)gther, which when not shoitened gave 
[(n)it59] ' 

Key appears to have had two pronunciations, for it rhymes not only 
with may, survey but also with be thee , this variant with [1 ], now the 
Standard form, is moreover indicated by the pun qiii's-keys The same 
development of ME at has apparently occurred in whey, spelled wee in 
wee-face MWW 1422 (Q has instead a whay coloured beard, which 
should be compared with whay- face Ms 3 17) , since wee-face is used by 
Simple, servant to Master Slender of the county of Gloucestershire, it 
must be a deliberate provincialism, [1 ] being still typical of western and 
southwestern dialects, including G 1 and Wa, in clay, day, lay, may, pay, 
say, whey ^ But Holofernes' repudiation of the colloquialisms nebour, ne 
LLL S I 25 f for "neighbor,’ "neigh’ probably refers to the use of [g ] in 
these words rather than to this dialectal [1 ] 

For the variants hoy-day TmA i 2 137 and high-day T 2 2 190--1 see 
OED Sleight H5 24117 is a regular variant of slight, going back to a 
ME doublet with e (OED) If height gate is a genuine rhyme, it reflects 
the normal development of late OE hehpu, which should have given mod- 
ern [hgit] , the antecedent of the modern Standard pronunciation [halt], 
on the analogy of high, is used by Shakespeare in the rhymes height night 
(2x), sight Haile M i 2 5 is usually taken to be disyllabic,® but I can 
see no reason for this phonological dodge, the missing half-foot (thesis) 
can easily be supplied by a pause or by a second hail, which may inad- 
vertently have been omitted by the printer 

It IS evident from the rhymes, puns, and spellings that, when followed 
by r, ME d, at, §, and in some cases e had been completely leveled in 
Shakespeare’s language He rhymes air bear, here, cares tears (n ) , hairs, 
dare bear, fair, despair hair, fair hair, there, fairs wares, fare ear, 
heir feere, fear, there, ware-a dear-a, wear-a , ® he puns on bare-bear, 
fair-fear, hair-heir-here-hare, stairs-stares , and the following spellings 
occur beare (bare) Cy 2249, faire (fare) 3H6 2195, haire-brain'd 

3 Ibid, Anm 2 Butler (1634) couples neither and nether as pronounced alike, and 
so does Hodges (1643) 

4 EDGr, §48 and Index 

5 VarEd , p 15, cites Abbott, §484, and Kittredge, p 892, comments “The vowel 
IS prolonged with a change of pitch, so as to give the effect of two syllables ” 
Kittredge’s reference to our in M i 6 30 is totally irrelevant because in our a glide 
would normally develop between the diphthong and r, see p 292, below 

6 Spenser has numerous rhymes of this kind {Rime, §§60, no) 



1H4 5219, patnng-knife MWW 1421, paynng AW ii 155, there 
(their) TA 23175 (Q), unheard (unhaired) J 52133, and shagge- 
ear'd M 4 2 83, which in view of the preceding spelling I prefer to interpret 
as shag-hatred rather than shag-eared ^ 

As will be shown below (p 199), the quality of the vowel was opener 
before r than in independent positions I take it to have been about the 
same as today, that is, [e ], with or without a glide [o] before the fol- 
lowing r, depending on the exigencies of the meter Thus hatre MV 
3 2 302 is obviously disyllabic and so are jare J 5 7 35 and prayers RJ 
I 5 108, H8 5 I 78, but pratr's 2H6 4 7 121, prayres H8 3 2 177, 5 i 73, 
R3 I 4 69, pi ayrs J 3 i 293, pray'rs Cy 3 6 53, matre (mayor) 3H6 4 7 20, 
27 (Q) are monosyllabic, the distinction in spelling is not consistently 
carried through, however, for -atr- is monosyllabic, eg, in bricklayer 
2H6 4 2 153, mator H5 5 pr 25, players O 2 i 113 

Dare and scare had ME doublets with a, reflected in scarre R J 5 3 262, 
scarr'd L 4 i 57, WT 3 3 66 (perhaps dialectal in these two instances), 
skar-crowes 1H4 4 2 43, scar-crow MM 2 i i but scarcely so in out-darde 
R2 I I 190 ( 0 ), dard R2 2 3 91 (Q), which, as the corresponding F 
forms {out)dar'd indicate more clearly, were probably intended to render 
a monosyllabic pronunciation [ds id] Farwell H 1 1 16, i 239 (Q2), 
etc , 3H6 2 I 22, JC 4 3 238, etc — cf so farre you well H i 2 251 (Q2) — 
may point to a shortening of the vowel in weakly stressed position and 
before the double consonants , if so, the variant with a was also used, as in 
jarewell L i i 278, MV 2 7 75, etc Since [a ] is used for ME air in cer- 
tain West Midland dialects and m Nf, where it is reported by Forby 
( 1830),® it is quite possible that stars-stairs 2H4 2 4 200-2 is a pun rather 
than a jmgle Like cheere M 5 3 21 with a pun on chair, the Q2 reading 
Anchors cheere H 3 2 229 (not in F) should very likely be interpreted as 
anchor's chair — cf ‘‘Sit seaven yeares pining in an anchores cheyre” (Hall, 
Satires, 1599, OED) , ® [tji9(j)] is not only a common dialectal pro- 
nunciation of chair today (it is reported from Wa) but it is evidenced also 
in Hodges (1643), who couples chare— chair— cheer as homonymous ^ But 
squire (square) 1H4 2213 goes back to a ME doublet with i (OED) 

7 See the discussion in Kittredge, p 946 Henslowe writes ear{e)s, ers (heirs), 
shear e (share), and yeare sleaves (hair-sleaves) The spellings of ha%r, however, are 
less important here, since it had e in ME 

8 See Sf Dial, §326, and EDGr, Index (chair, fair, pair, stair) 

9 See Kittredge, p 1069, who prefers the interpretation cheer, and Dover Wilson 
(CaEd , p 26s), who takes cheer to mean chair 

I Lediard (1725) also mentions this as a common pronunciation (Horn, §118, 
Anm ) Chaire C 4 7 52, which some editors emend to cheer, is probably an inverted 


Are had two pronunciations the old stressed form with ME a, that is, 
[e i] m Shakespeare*s time, which rhymes with care, compare, dare, fear, 
here, prepare, rare, szvear, zvhere, unaware, and the restressed form with 
ME dr, rhyming with car, scar, star, war 

aw in law 

The path of change which ME au, that is, [au] followed to its present 
sound [d ], as in lazv, cause, would naturally seem to have led via the 
intermediate stage [otr], reached probably when ME ou (originally [ou] ) 
had become monophthongized to [o ] No serious objection can be raised 
against this theory of development, which as a simple explanation of the 
StE sound has found favor with many scholais Some, however, main- 
tain that it does not satisfactorily account for the fact that orthoepists of 
the i6th-i8th centuries usually equate the English sound for au with Fr a 
in pdfe, that is, [a ], and that, eg, the 18th-century English loanword 
Schal (< shawl) in German appears with an a For this reason Luick 
(§519) advanced another theory,^ according to which ME au was first 
monophthongized to [a ] over the whole area and then rounded to [o ] 
in the latter half of the i8th century While this obviates the seeming 
difficulties inherent in the earlier theory and provides a natural explana- 
tion of the occurrence of [a ] (and variants of [a ] ) in modern dialects, 
it nevertheless manages to create insuperable problems where none ex- 
isted before ^ Moreover, it treats the orthographic evidence very cavalierly, 
as if It were of no significance, and it ignores other important evidence, 
eg, dialectal developments not recoided in Ellis and Wright Its prin- 
cipal error, I think, is its insistence that the monophthongization of ME 
au to [a ] was universal and that it consequently represents one phase 
in the evolution of the St E sound Such uniformity of development is 
inconceivable in eNE and no less so in ME, where the diphthong au can 
hardly have been precisely the same sound everywhere, indeed, it must 
have had a number of regional variants, some with a fronted and others 
with a retracted or centralized or even rounded first element, all of which 
were more or less adequately rendered by the conventional digraphs aw 
and au Nor can monophthongization, independent as well as combina- 
tive, have been entirely unknown during the ME period despite the 

2 The older view is ably and convincingly defended by Zachnsson, Bullokar, pp 
6s ff 

3 See my criticism in Sf Dial, §331, Sfudia N eophilologtca 7 (1934/35), 112 ff , 
and Mather Flint, pp loi ff 


scanty evidence for it ^ When, however, the ME diphthong was taken 
O'ver as such into NE, it appears to have become monophthongized, sooner 
01 later, to either [o ] or an [a ] sound ® The former in due course became 
the St E vowel, whereas the latter now survives only m dialects Some 
of the early identifications of English au and Fr d may actually have had 
such a dialectal background, but in most cases they are undoubtedly due 
to sound-substitution to a Frenchman, who in his native language had the 
two phonemes [o ] and [a ], the English [o ] would have sounded much 
more like [a ] than [o ], in particular since he was accustomed to identify 
eNE [o ] < ME g/ou with his own [o ] ® It is my firm conviction, there- 
fore, that in Shakespeare's time there existed already an [o ] sound for 
ME au in independent positions, which had developed via [ou] as sug- 
gested above At the same time, however, many speakers used the un- 
rounded variant [a ], which was current in the immediate neighborhood 
of London, and probably in the capital itself, but was unable to hold its 
own in the developing St E 

The supposition that [o ] < ME au was current in the Elizabethan 
period is borne out by Shakespeare's material First of all we have the 
significant spelling ktckshawes 2H4 5 i 29, kicke-chamses TN i 3 122, 
an Anglicization of Fr que'que chose with English aw for Fr 0 [o ] An- 
other important piece of evidence is the pun lawyer-lower, which would 
have been absolutely impossible had lawyer been pronounced with [a ] , 
even if lower still retained its [0 ], no distortion of the [0 ] in lawyer 
would have been needed to produce the pun, though in that case the prac- 
tice may well have been for the actor to aim at the intermediate vowel 
[9 ] Equally important is the Clown's malapropism or popular etymology 
argali H 5 i 13-21 (2x) for ei go , the similarity of its final vowel [o ] to 
[d ] m all, plus the association of arg- < erg- with the word argue, 
used in 1 ii, will explain this amusing corruption, which could not have 

4 Jordan, §112, Anm, mentions the ME monophthongization of au before labials 

5 It IS quite possible, despite the absence of modern evidence, that some dialects 
even preserved the old diphthong well into the NE period 

6 These French writers on English pronunciation always identify u in cut with 
their native [0] in comme 

7 In the 1 6th and 17th centuries spelled -shews, -chawes, -shose, -shoes, etc , the 
Shakespeare forms being among the earliest recorded (OED) Luick, §582, Anm , 
finds kick-shawes and hawker « Du hoker), first recorded m 1510 (not 1550 as 
given in Luick), “auffallig,” because in his opinion ME au was still a diphthong at 
the beginmng of the i6th century and did not become [a ] until the end of the century * 
These early aw renderings of the Fr and Du o, which Luick does not even attempt 
to explain, completely invalidate his theory of a general unrounding of ME au^ [a ] 
and of the very late rounding of this [a ] > [o ] 



happened with [a ] in all We may compare or for all in or silver'd ore 
S 12 4 , which I am inclined to regard as an interesting case of dittography, 
brought about by the similarity between [0 1] and [0 j] or [d j] ® Very 
important, too, is the pun Aufidius-so fiddious'd, involving the [0 ] in 
so and the [o ] m Aufidius, for the possible pun haud [ho d]~o?<i 
[0 d] see pp ii2f, above The obvious confusion between impound 
(impawned) H 5 2 155 (Q2) and impon'd (F) ® likewise argues for [o ] 
in the former word That au stood for [o ] can moreover be deduced from 
the inverted spellings paucas (Sp pocas) TS pr i 5, forset-seller (faucet-) 
C 2 I 79, and Dolphin 1H6 i i 92, J 2 i 425, etc (here probably with 
shortening of the vowel), for Daulphin J 3 i 311 The interjection law, 
used, e g , in H5 3 2 94, LLL 5 2 414 (where it rhymes with flaw), with 
Its variants la, as in WT 2 3 50, and lo, is phonologically ambiguous its 
aw may well represent [o ], making law a restressed form of lo < ME 
Ig < OE Id, but it may equally well be an inverted spelling of Id, restressed 
form of ME Id < OE Id, showing the monophthongization of ME au to 
an [a ] sound The Q spelling baudie RJ 2 5 42 for body looks very much 
like a (dialectal^) lengthening of o to [0 ] in the Nurse's pronunciation, 
this IS a typical w So feature ^ A dialectal [d], which cannot possibly be 
derived from an earlier [a ], is clearly indicated in the rhyme Ioffe coffe 
(laugh cough), for which see also p 184, below, the rhyme naught oft, 
however, is not conclusive Ponies (St Paul's) 1H4 24576, Powles 
H8 5 4 16 had a ME variant with ou (see OED), whereas 0 in emrold 
MWW S S 74 probably stands for [9] , fouler (falter) ^ C 4 7 55 may 
have had an early doublet with o (cf OED) 

By contrast the evidence of a general monophthongization of ME au 
to [a ] in independent positions is extremely meager, the only possible 
instances being the spellings aburne (auburn) TGV 4 4 194, aborne 
TNK 42127, abram C 2 3 21 (an amusing corruption of auburn),^ 

8 Alternatively it may be a misprint of the same kind as or a// H 5 i 13 (Q2), 
which IS correctly rendered argali in 1 21 (Q2) 

9 Young Osnc’s term %mpon*d was apparently so quaint that Hamlet felt prompted 
to say (1 171) 'Why is this impon’d as you call iV In Q2 the corresponding word 
was accidentally left out 'Why is this all you call it^” 

1 See Kruisinga, §228, also EDGr §§82, 94 Tucker Brooke’s emendation of 
to*th* L 1221 (F, tooth Q) to taw th* (Yale edition, p 161) would presuppose an 
original spelling to or possibly tow neither of which seems very likely , however, I 
can offer no better solution of this crux 

2 In fouler either t was accidentally dropped or its I should be read as t, m which 
case the preconsonantal I had been lost as in other words of the same type , see pp 
302, 310, below 

3 Perhaps to be read for Abraham RJ 2 1 13 , but see Kittredge, p 729 


aspthous (auspicious) MA 3 S 50 (Dogberry’s mal^ropism for ‘sus- 
picious’), and paco (Lat pauca, used by Pistol) Hs 2 i 83 (Qi~3) 
Hathorne L 3 4 47 » 102 (Q), in two speeches of Edgar’s, may be a 
deliberate provincialism, with [a ] or [^ ] in the first syllable But bable 
(bauble) RJ 2497, IS 52 122 and outlane (outlawry) JC 43 173 go 
back to ME forms with a (OED) , concerning the former see also the 
discussion on p 165, above ^ 

The phonological interpretation of caught her daughter slaughter 
halter after, the rhyming feat of the Fool in L i 4 340-5, is comparatively 
simple if we assume that the rhyme is phonetically exact — and we have no 
valid reason for doubting its exactness considering the nature of the epi- 
gram Since halter alone could not conceivably have had an [f ] , it follows 
that the four other rhyme words were not pronounced with [f] either 
Similar considerations will make it necessary to eliminate the [ 1 ] in halter , 
cf the same loss of I in halt, rhyming with talk We are thus left with a 
choice between [0 ] and [a ] in these five words, both of which would 
be equally acceptable in caught, daughter, slaughter In after, on the other 
hand, [a ] or [a ] must be postulated m view of the popularity of the 
form [a to] in modern dialects and of the almost total absence of [o to], 
which is recorded only from sw Np In halter both [o ] and [a ] would 
have been possible, though a form [ (h)a to] is unrecorded today , but we 
find [a lto(j[) ] in w So for alter, as well as [so t] for salt m Sx (EDGr, 
Index), forms that warrant the postulated pronunciation of halter, as 
does John Tayldr’s rhyme author halter, that is, probably [0 toj] 
[ho toj] The above rhyme is clearly a patchwork of colloquial pronuncia- 
tions current in regional or class dialects within the London area or in its 
immediate vicinity It is hard to believe, however, that the Elizabethan 
audience regarded such forms as vulgar or rustic, for Ben Jonson did 
not hesitate to rhyme water daughter slaughter after in his epigram 
“On the Birth of the Lady Mary” (see p 168, above) , the clever rh3rming 
Itself was undoubtedly a source of amusement and appreciative comment 

In all probability laugh, which rhymes with draff, epitaph, staff, was 
pronounced with [ae ] like words having ME a + / (see p 167, above) 

4 In Henslowe’s Diary we find, eg, aguste (August), choke (chalk), draynge 
(drawing), lafull (lawful), frade (fraud), Shaa (Shaw), etc, clearly indicating a 
vowel [a ] or [a ], as still in Sr, but also regularly Fostes, Fosfus (Faustus), for 
which see the explanation given below, p 228, n 8 Similar a-spellmgs have been cited 
from other sources by Zachrisson Bidlohar, p 69 It should be mentioned here that 
Wodroephe ( 1623) , who consistently renders Fr au by 0 as in gosh (gauche) , etc (see 
p 230, below), transcribes Fr n not by aw, as one might expect if it had been generally 
pronounced [a ], but by aa as in aabees (habits), fraaee (phrase), aan (ane), braa 



The striking rhyme Ioffe caffe (laugh cough) shows, however, that a 
variant with [d] must have been sufficiently common to permit its use in 
rhyme One would like to believe that it was a Warwickshire survival in 
Shakespeare's pronunciation, for [d] in laugh is still typical of e Wa and 
some neighboring dialects, yet the Mother Hubbard rhyme laughing 
coffin^ suggests that [lof] may earlier have had much wider currency 
than at present, that in fact it may have been heard even in London Ac- 
cording to Holofernes in LLL 5 i 25, calj and halj were commonly mis- 
pronounced cauje, hatife, but we cannot tell whether au here stands for 
[a ] or [0 ], perhaps even [ae ] 

ME au followed by a nasal consonant is spelled interchangeably with a 
and au as in danted 2H6 41 119, gantlets J 5 2 156, hanttng 1H4 3 i 186 
(Q), landresse MWW 3 3 157, sclandrous RL 161, tanting AYL 3 5 134, 
braunch WT i i 27, chaunt TA 2312, daunsing TA 2 i 39, haunches 
AYL 2 I 25, slaundred RJ 4 i 35, etc The rhyming, too, follows the 
established practice, as will be seen from such entries m the Rhyme Index 
as chance, enchant, Fiance, granted, vaunt Nothing can be inferred from 
these spellings and rhymes concerning the pronunciation of the words in 
question, nor do we get much help from contemporary authorities We are 
therefore justified m postulating [as ] or [a ] in branch, dance, etc , and 
[0 ] or [a ] in haunt, laundress, etc , m conformity with the present dis- 
tribution of [a ] and [o ] in St E For rhymes like grant want, vaunt 
want see p 171, above 

In angel, change, danger, strange (spelled strange and straunge in the 
same line, AW 2 3 33), etc , Shakespeare very likely had ], the ante- 
cedent of modern [gi], though again he provides neither orthographic noi 
rhyme evidence, except the spellings straing LC 303 and ramg'd AC 
I I 34 , but Levins (1570) has chaynge, graynge, raynge, straynge, as well 
as change, strange, exchange^ Like Skelton, Shakespeare rhymes cham- 
ber amber, not necessarily an indication that he used [se] m both words, 
though there is every likelihood that he did " Raphe (Ralph) 2H4 3 2 109, 
Raje TS 4 i 139 (< OF Rauj) shows the same development as save 
(< OF sauver), with a pronounced ] 

Nothing definite can be learned from the pun calm— qualm (spelled 
calme) about the vowel used in the two words , it may have been [o ] or, 

5 It could, of course, be purely conventional, for rhymes like laugh off thereof 
and laughed scoffed occur m the 17th century (Earl of Rochester, Flatman, K 
Philips) , perhaps under the influence of Shakespeare’s Ioffe coffe 

6 For the development of this group of words see Jordan, §224 

7 A pronunciation similar to modem [t/?imbo] is reflected in the triple rhyme 
chamber remember danger mTotteVs Miscellany,^ 39 


more likely, [a ] The old stressed form of shall, which appears as shaul 
in Hart (1570) and as shdl (and shal) in Gill (1621) and was probably 
pronounced [Jol], rhymes traditionally with jail, gall, etc , in an un- 
stressed position we find shat (shalt) MND 32426 (Q), pronounced 
either [/set] or [ Jat] For the alleged pun scdve-L,z.t salve see p 87, above 

e m let 

As a rule, ME isolative e, e g , in let, bed, was as now pronounced [^], 
a vowel intermediate between the half-close and the half-open quality It 
IS normally spelled e and not infrequently ea on the analogy of shortenings 
like head, as in creadit MM 2492, seavenUe AYL 2371, wealk'd 
L 4671 ^ On the other hand, reake(s) Cy 42 154, H i 3 51 (Q2), 
wreakes AYL 2481, and wreakelesse TGV 4340, unless traditional, 
may indicate the current 16th-century doublet of reck with long ] , for 
least (lest) and shead (shed) see below 

Most of the a-spellmgs for ME e in Shakespeare reflect early doublets 
with a and not a general tendency to lower this e Shakespeare may there- 
fore have had [as] in ambassage S 26 3, ambassie MWW 3 5 132, arrant 
(errand) CE 2 i 72, RJ 2 566, etc, en-mash O 2 3 368 {enmesh Q), 
malancholy 1H4 i 2 88 (Q), wadg'd (wedged) C 2 3 30, wracke T i 2 26, 
etc , wrasthng J 5 2 41, etc , wrastler AYL i i 94, etc , and in wretch, 
rhyming with scratch , for all these see OED Early ct-forms seem to indi- 
cate that in harrold (herald) R2 i 3 SD original e had been lowered be- 
fore r (OED) ® In falhes (fellies) H 22 517 {jollies Q2), rallish MM 
I 2 16, and yallownesse MWW i 3 iii the I appears to have similarly 
affected the preceding e ^ Thus may be explained Mrs Quickly's alhgant 

8 Other such spellings are alleadged H8 2 1 13 creast MND 3 2 214 (Q), deaftly 
M 4 I 68, fleash L 2249 (Q), leaveld LC 282, leavy 1H4 i i 22 (Q), neast AYL 
41 208, neatherstocks 1H4 24130 (Q), peate TS 1 1 78, preasse H8 5488, prease 
3H6 31 19 (perhaps the doublet with a long vowel, for which see OED), seale 
slaughter H i 2 132 (Q2) seaven TGV 3 1 126, seaver TNK 2 2 95, sleaded H i i 63 
(Q1-2), teachte R J i 3 32, treable TA 518 (Q), bell-weather MWW 3 5 112 Ap- 
pealant R2 i i 34 and extreamiHe Cy 3 4 17 show the orthographic influence of appeal 
and extreame, a common I5th-i7th-century form Henslowe is fond of ea, which he 
uses instead of e in, e g , beager, eages, eand, geatte, healpe, leandynge, leat, meant, 

g That herald was commonly pronounced with a [ae] is clear from Hodges’ (1643) 
equation of herald and Harold “A herald of arms belonging to King Harold' (p 5) 
Its a may perhaps be due to the Anglo-Norman interchange of a and e in pretonic 
positions, for which see Menger, pp 49, 62, and Zachrisson, English V owels, p 61 

I For such tendencies see Jones, English Phonetics, §274, and Sj Dial , §24 EDD 
records jally, vally (felloe) from Wo, He, and G 1 That y allow should have developed 


1 86 

(elegant) MWW 2269, whereas Costard’s vara (very) LLL 52487 
looks like a deliberate northermsm ^ Lacht MND 3 2 36, usually taken as 
the p pie of latch, is almost certainly a variant of leach ^to moisten’ , by 
the side of OE leccan f< Hakjan), ME Hetchen, NE letch, leach we 
should expect an OE variant Hceccan > ME Hatchen > NE latch, re- 
flected m the MND spelling The rhymes neck hack and matter letter 
hardly imply identity of sound but merely imperfect linking of [^] and 
[ae] (see p 164, above) , this is true also of the pun merry-marry Jamy 
m the rhyme lamy penny many very likely stands for the more common 
hypocoristic form Jemmy ® 

Of far greater importance are the numerous cases of % for ME e, which 
are evidenced by spellings, rhymes, and puns and presuppose a pronuncia- 
tion [i], now generally characteristic of vulgar or dialectal speech but 
formerly current in polite usage The following form a sample of such 
spellings htter S 91 8 (perhaps a misprint), bhsse L 3458, 60 (used 
by Edgar) chtverell (cheveril) H8 2332, chjf{e) (clef) TC 5211, 
TS 3 I 77, disperate H 5 i 243, dwell 1H4 i 2 126, etc (very frequent), 
divel(l)ish MM 3 i 65, MND 3 2 129, mgtner TC 239 (Q), by Gts 
H 4 5 58 (Q^)> jymold (gemel) H5 42 49, intertainment VA 1108, tn- 
trades R3 4 4 23, 229, intrals TA i i 144, intire (stressed on first syllable) 
L I I 243, LLL 2 I 131, epehpUck L 2 2 87 (Q), jnenses (frenzy’s) TC 
51029 (Q), lymbeck (alembic) M 1767, hbbards (leopard’s) LLL 
S 2 551, ptbble TGV 23 11, etc , stedgte 1H4 i 3 98 (Q, perhaps a case of 
dittography), sildome AW 3 6 64, etc , cyme (senna) ^ M 5 3 55, s^xe- 
teene (sexton) H 5 i 177, stirrill 2H4 4 3 129, stvrnle T 4 i 69, stirrihty 
L 14300, Uder H i 3 125 (Q2, tether F), togither Cy 1436, etc, 
whither MV 2 2 48 (Q), over-withered MV 2 6 18 The same tendency is 
also revealed by the rhymes amiss redress, Imogen in, impression com- 
mission, imprinted contented, kdl sentinel, pretty ditty, prince conse- 
quence, hence (if they are rhymes), thejt shift, then Mittelin/ together 

through the influence of fallow (Horn, §31 5> Jordan, §73* Anm 2) seems farfetched , 
for a more plausible suggestion see my PN Wt, p xciv 

2 See EDGr, Index, also Eckhardt, j, §§212, 228, 265, and p 43, above 

3 For this form see Sunden, pp 93, 167 f 

4 A dubious case, since cyme (doubtless a misprint for syne) may represent the 
obsolete variant sene, which had a long vowel (OED) and which survives as dialectal 
seeny (EDD) , cf the F2~3 spelling Cceny , see also Kittredge, p 957 

5 This rhyme occurs once m P, where Myttlene, spelled Metahn, also rhymes once 
with dtn Apparently Myttlene is a trisyllable here with the principal stress on the 
first syllable (m 5 1 177 , however, it has four syllables), a fact that places the 
exactness of the above rhyme under suspicion Kittredge, disregarding the Q spell- 
ing, prints the name Mytden which may have been the form mtended, although there 
is no authority for it , for in P the name is spelled only Mettelyne 423, Metehne 


thtther, whither, weather hither, thither, well ill, Jill, farewell till, and 
yet sit, unfit, wit ® Of these, however, the rhymes with together and 
weather are ambiguous, despite the above spellings, because hither, thither, 
and whither had common variants with e, which may have been used here , 
note also the unambiguous rhyme together neither, both with [§] From 
the Jingles and puns we likewise learn that [i] was used m genitive, peli- 
can, prentice, red, sense, sensual, English, neck, read, sexton, well, and 
perhaps also in hem, letter Katherine^s mistake bilbow for elbow (H5 
3431) reveals that her gentlewoman Alice pronounced the latter word 
with [i], as she did in the case of neck How consistent this usage was 
cannot be determined today, but it is noteworthy that words of this 
category could have — ^and often did have — [i] instead of, or interchang- 
ing with, [^] In some, especially in yes, yesterday, yet, this [i] remained 
the accepted pronunciation down to the end of the i8th century , thus Gill 
(1621) has i in all three words, whereas Walker (1791), who advocates 
yis for yes, repudiates i in yet and engine, while Flint (1740) transcribes 
them with i ^ 

Pebble, spelled four times with i and twice with ee (H 5 i 254, MWW 
4135) and apparently used m a pun on pee, seems to have had at least two 
pronunciations at this time, one with [i] and the other with [1 ], for both 
of which there are good parallels in OED , EDD records pibble from O and 
peeble from Sc Ciment AC 2 i 48, C 4 6 85, cyment AC 3 2 29 goes back 
to ME cyment < OF ciment and is therefore irrelevant Shed, spelled 
shead RJ 3 i 154 (Q2) and sheed 3H6 i 4 161 (Q) and rhyming with 
bleed, apparently had [1 ] , a form stiU heard in Wa, Wo, Sa, etc (EDD) , 
[ Ji d] must come from an OE variant of sceddan with a falling diphthong, 
sceadan, which shared the common WS smoothing of ea to e and in ME 
became sheden (by the side of sh§den < sceadan) ® Modern shed is de- 

4 6 31, Metahne 5 1 177, Mittehn, and Metalm I can hardly believe that then, which 
persistently appears for than as well, was normally pronounced with [i] by Shake- 
speare When in 1685 Miege teaches t not only m then but also in fen, pence, hence, 
thence, when, ivhence (see Mather Flint, p 104), we cannot be sure whether this i 
represents London or northern usage 

6 Similar rhymes are to be found m i6th- and 17th-century verse, e g , prince 
offence (Mirror for Magistrates), prince defense consequence (Earl of Rochester), 
contents convince (Chapman) , Spenser rhymes gift with bereft, reft, left, theft, and 
hid with bred, and also afflict infect, excell hill, will hell, fell, etc , see Rime, 
§§96, 245 ff 

7 See, e g , Jespersen, Grammar, §8 61, and Mather Flint, p 104 Note that Cooper 
(1685) reports git for get as a colloquialism (“facilitatis causa dicitur’^) and not as 
a vulgarism as is erroneously asserted by Horn, §36 

8 See Bulbrmg, §315, Jordan, §§75, 80, Anm 2, and OED Vietor's explanation 
of sheed (§12) is incorrect 



rived fiom either of these ME doublets with shortening of the vowel, 
originally m the p t shedde The present pronunciation of held is evidenced 
by the rhymes beheld excelled, stelled,^ dzvelled, but a variant with [i] 
or [i ] IS indicated by held field, ktlled, fulfilled Both [hild] and [hi Id] 
are equally plausible phonologically (OE heold > ME held > eNE 
[hi Id], spelled heeld or, with shortening of the vowel, hild), but unless 
Shakespeare actually used three pronunciations of held, the shortened hild 
seems the most likely variant , it is still heard in dialect (EDD) The spell- 
ing shear d L i 4 219 is ambiguous, since it may represent shelled or, more 
probably, sheeled (OED) 

The word devil, both disyllabic and monosyllabic in Shakespeare, is so 
often spelled with i that divel ([dival] or [divil]) rather than devil 
should be regarded as his usual pi enunciation This dwel is, like devil, 
to be derived from a ME variant devel (with analogically shortened vowel 
on the pattern of trisyllabic develes), or it may result from much later 
shortening of eNE [di val] < ME devel, whatever its precise history, 
divel is the pronunciation taught, eg, by Bullokar (1585) and Butler 
(1634), and It is, moreover, of common occurrence in modern dialect 
(EDGr, Index) When vowel shortening did not take place, ME devel 
(<OE deofol) became [di val] about 1400, a pronunciation used by 
Smith (1568) and still current in northern dialects That Shakespeare 
should have had it too seems unlikely, m spite of his nine examples of the 
rhyme devil evil This ihyme, extiemely frequent in English long before 
Shakespeare, must m his day have been traditional and so justifies us in 
interpreting it as an inexact linking of [div^l] and [1 val] , unless he in fact 
like Hart (1570) pronounced evil with [i] Instead of the disyllabic divel 
we quite often find the corresponding monosyllabic [divl] required by 
the meter, e g , LLL 4 3 257, M i 3 107, T i 2 215, etc , though it is rarely 
indicated typographically, a good case in point is divHl TN 2 3 159,^ and 
so are perhaps deule devle) H 32 137 (Q2), RJ 241, deu^e RJ 
3 I 108, all of them in prose passages In H 2 2 627 (Q2) there twice 
appears, furthermore, the unique form deale, whose ea has been explained 
as a misprint of eui but which agrees excellently with such I4th“i5th- 
century spellings as dele, del and such modem, dialectal contractions as 

^ 9 Steeld S 24 I IS generally taken to be a misprint of stelVd with the meaning 
portrayed (OED) or ‘set, placed* (Tucker Brooke, Kittredge, and others) Victor 
(§ 9 ) suggests the meaning ‘engraven as in steel,’ for which there is no evidence in 

^ VarEd , p 130, makes the following delightful comment on the spelling 
div ll When Maria is trying to smooth a rough asseveration into a ‘sarcenet surety,’ 
IS It fair, IS It courteous to disregard her delicacy, as do all editors, and make her 
blurt out devil, when she uses only an equivalent to the modern innocent ‘de’il’ 


[di 1 ] and [dil] (northern and Midland) , ^ cf eale for evil H i 4 36 (Q2) 
and the common contractions e'en, e'er, ne'er, o'er It is, of course, possible 
that all the examples of monosyllabic divel, devil should actually be read 
[di 1] and not [divl] as suggested above, just as sprite is frequently to be 
pronounced for spirit , apart from the two instances of deale there is, how- 
ever, no proof of a uniform development of this kind, and it might there- 
fore be rash to assume it ® In some dialects devil appears as dewle, dule 
(EDD, OED), a variant not evidenced in Shakespeare but paralleled m 
rule for revel, as in night-rule MND 325, and also in several place- 
names ^ Now, if devil could become deale and dule, it would seem reason- 
able for revel to give rise to rule beside reel There are, indeed, in Shake- 
speare two instances of reel which may be explained as contractions of 
revel One occurs in AC 2799, *'Diinke thou encrease the Reeles" 
(rhyming with wheeles), and the other in H i 4 9, '‘The King doth wake 
to night, and takes his rouse, / Keepes wassels and the swaggering up- 
spring reeles" , according to OED both are plurals of reel sb 2 in the 
special sense 'revels, revelry' , Kittredge on the other hand, ignoring the 
OED interpretation and taking reels at its face value, paraphrases the 
AC line, "For eveiy man who staggeis makes one more toward the whole 
world's reeling" (p 1377), which seems much less attractive than the 
straightforward OED explanation, "increase the revels " The H passage 
IS more involved, since its meaning to some extent hinges on the function 
of upspnng, which OED takes to be an adj meaning 'newly arisen or 
come in' and governing the n reeles, whereas Kittredge (p 1036) and 
others explain it as "a kind of dance" and as the subject of the vb reeles 
"The swaggering dance, the upspnng, is reeling through the hall " Here, 
too, the OED interpretation seems more plausible,® though in that case 
reeles should not, as in OED, be explained as a sense development of reel 
sb 2 ("a whirl or whirling movement") but as a contraction of the n revel 
similar to that of devil to deale ® 

2 Gill (1621) mentions [di 1 ] as a northernism For a discussion of this problem 
see my article “Shakespeare’s night-rule ” 

3 Jespersen, Grammar, §2 532, is in favor of such a pronunciation 

4, See my article “Shakespeare’s mght-rule,” pp 42 f Rule ‘revel’ occurs in Peek’s 
King Edward the First, sc 23 “The carelesse sheepe [sleepe Qq] rule on the moun- 
taines toppes ” 

5 The parallelism between the two plurals wassels and reeles in F is not without 
sigmficance, I think, even if Q2 happens to have wassell, a form adopted by Kittredge 
The plural form occurs in AC i 4 56 “Anthony, Leave thy lascivious Vassailes** 

6 First suggested by W S Walker, 3, 285 Citing as a parallel the monosyllabic 
revels in Tourneur’s Revengers Tragedy 31“ it were fine, methmkes, / To 
have thee seen at revels, forgetful feasts” (Dodsley, 10, 61), he wants to read revel 



Leopard was usually disyllabic/ with [i] as the common colloquial 
variant of [^] as the above spelling libbard unmistakably shows, but at the 
same time we must presuppose a trisyllabic form, which the meter re- 
quires in 1H6 I 5 31, ‘'Or Horse or Oxen from the Leopard,'' and which 
Butler ( 1634) apparently used , defining the diaeresis as “a note of parting 
two Vowels, which otherwise might seem to make a diphthong,’’ he ex- 
emplifies its use (p 63) by Leopard, Gilead, etc There also existed an 
old-fashioned doublet /w&iar < MElubard,S‘^t\\tilupard{e) 4-5 (OED) 
and used by Mrs Quickly in Lubbars head 2H4 2131, obviously because 
of Its amusing similarity to lubber-head Hum TC i 3 165 and rust RJ 
5 3 170 are printed hem and rest by most modern editors, e g , Kittredge, 
but there is little, if any, justification for the former emendation hum is 
as good as hem, both being clearly onomatopoetic and having the same 
meaning (see OED) Rust is altogether a different case It appears as 
such m F and Q2-3, but as rest in Q “ ’Tis in thy sheath, there rust and 
let me die” (F) While some editors defend rust as the correct reading, 
they disregard the possibility of a dialectal development of e to u, espe- 
cially in the neighborhood of I and r, and also the fact that OED records 
«^-spellings of rest (n and vb) from the 15th century® But runagate Cy 
I 6 137, R3 4 4 464, and RJ 3 5 90 for renegate is an example of popular 
etymology, the word having been analyzed as a compound of ren, early 
doublet of run (4-7# OED), and agate 

ee in see 

The raising of ME e in he, see, etc , to [1 ] occurred at least as early 
as the beginning of the 15th century, and the new vowel has remained 
virtually unchanged in an independent position ever since No one doubts, 
therefore, that [1 ] was Shakespeare’s sound, although the textual evi- 
dence for It is by no means impressive Apart from the common rhymes 
between the metrically stressed ending -y in words like apology, enemy, 
necessity, and be, he, me, see, thee, etc , we have only one other conclusive 
instance of this [1 ] for ME e, viz , the rhyme concubine queen Nor 
is the orthographic evidence abundant Wheeson 2H4 2 i 97 (Q , Whit- 

AC I 4 5 as reel, this is, however, hardly necessary, since the following word begins 
with a vowel, thus facilitating a monosyllabic pronunciation [rgvl] 

7 So reported by Dames (1640), Cooper (1685), and others, and said to be a 
homonym of leper and leaper by Price (1668) and in The Writing Scholar's Com- 
panion (1695) 

8 Red IS pronounced with [a] m D, So, W (EDGr, Index) See also Sf Dial, 



son F), deep (clip) C 4 5 114, spleet{s) H 3 2 12 (Q2), AC 2 7 129, and 
sap ego (serpigo) MM 3 i 31 are probably best explained as inverted 
spellings (but see p 215, below) Mtter (meter, with ME e < Lat e) ® 
1H4 3 I 130 (Q), S 17 12 appears to be a safe instance of i [1 ] for ME e, 
and probably also bryze TC i 3 48 (Q , hneze F) for breeze ‘gadfly,’ but 
besknnd RJ 2 2 52 (Q , cf scnne 6-7 for ‘screen,’ OED), ghkes (gleeks) 
1H6 3 2 123, and scnch-ould TC 5 10 16 (Q) , scntch-owle MND 5 i 383 ^ 
are hardly conclusive because of their uncertain etymology Note further 
the use of e for It and Fr t in me (mi) L i 2 149, TS i i 25, te (ti) LLL 
4 2 100, que (chi) LLL 4 2 100, che la (qui est la) 1H6 3 2 13, Gran Pne 
(Grandpre) Hs 48 104 (Q), and i in cavel{l)tra (cavaleiro) MWW 
2 I 206, 221 (Q) , here may also belong Semenmts (Semiramis) TA 
2 I 22, Semeramts TA 23118 Other t-spellings will be dealt with below in 
connection with the shortening of ME e 

Shortening of ME ^ > [i], occasionally [^], is on the other hand well 
evidenced by rhymes, puns, and spellings Thus been rhymes with him 
(2x) and sin, and the great frequency of spellings like bin RJ 2 3 47, etc , 
WT 3 3 III, etc , byn T i 2 10, btnne S 117 5 indicates that [bin] was cur- 
rent colloquially, [bi n], rhyming with seen, sheen, spleen, was of course 
also used, though [bi n] appears to have been the regular contracted form 
of being (see below) A similar shortening of the vowel in seen would be 
a distinct possibility were it not for the fact that seen mthin is a doubtful 
rhyme The pun sheep-ship shows that the now dialectal [Jip] for sheep, 
which Coote (1596) branded as typical of “the barbarous speech of our 
country people,” ^ was actually a colloquialism in good standing at that 
time, while [slip] for sleep (as still in Sr, Sx, and W) has the spelling 
slip MM I 3 21, MND 3 2 85 (slippe Q) and the pun sleep-slip to sup- 
port It On the other hand, the jingle steelr-still need not imply complete 
identity of sound, that is, [i] in steel, nor dare we rely on the doubtful 
rhyme steel will as evidence of such a pronunciation ® The use of [i] in 
teeth, still heard in G1 and O, will explain the rhyme teeth with (found 
also in Spenser) , whereas the pun week-unck is phonologically ambiguous, 
since zveek may have retained its original i OE wice) or wick its 

9 Bullokar, p 49 , the word may, however, have had ME f < OF e xn meter OED 
cites such spellings as myter, mytre 6, miter 6-7 In Gammer Gurtoris Needle it has 
the shortened form metier (5 i 35), but it is doubtful whether the y- and i-spellings 
just quoted indicate a short vowel 

1 Also spelled sknchowle 3H6 2656 (Q), scnke-oules 2H6 32327 (Q), and 
schretchowle TNK 3 2 35 Equally inconclusive are, of course, shrike MND 1 2 78, 
etc , and shnktng LC 20, Hs 3 3 35 

2 Quoted Horn, 2^, 482 

3 Dryden rhymes steel will. Chapman steel well, and Congreve steel kill 



original ^ ( < OE wece) But hggens in the asseveration by Gods hggens 
2H4 5 3 69 (Q, not in F) is a shortened variant of legions, cf Wyclifs 
spelling lygtouns ("'many lygiouns of aungels,” OED) ^ A short vowel is 
probably also indicated by ich (eche < OE ecan), spelled ech (Q2), 
eech (Q3) , but note the rhyme speech eche 

The three words field, shield, and yield appear to have been pronounced 
with [i], to judge by the rhymes field build, held, field guild shield, 
field killed yield, and shielded yielded builded ® Build and held may 
have had [1 ] < ME e but certainly not killed, and for that reason [i] 
seems the most plausible vowel in field, shield, yield, the more so since it 
is well evidenced dialectally in field, yield , moreover, the use of [i] in 
yield is confirmed by the formula goddild you AYL 3 3 76, Godhld you 
AYL 5 4 56, God dird you H 4 5 41 {good dild you Q2) , but note eyld 
Hs 4 4 I (Q), M I 6 13 The spellmg willd MWW i 3 24 (Q) likewise 
points to [i] in wield and the triple rhyme wield field yield may there- 
fore have been spoken with either [1 ] 01 [i] Held, rhyming with killed 
fulfilled, most likely had [i], though the regular variant [h^ld] was prob- 
ably used in the somewhat ambiguous ihyme held steeld, in which steeld 
is usually emended to steWd, apparently on very good grounds 

Friend and fiend, both with ME e, were doubtless pronounced with 
[1 ], [i], and [§] m Shakespeare’s time If the rhymes can be trusted, he 
used [§] in both words, for friend {s,-ed) rhymes with amend, compre- 
hend, contend, descend, end, extend, intend, lend, offend, penned, spend, 
tend, while fiend {s) is linked twice with end and twice with friend {s) 
Except for end fiend (2x), end itself (including ender, ended, ending) 
rhymes exclusively with words having e, a fact that suggests the pronun- 
ciation [^nd] Yet variants with [1 ] (< ME end) and [i], both common 
in modern dialects, must have been current at the same time , Spenser, e g , 
xhymtsfeend we end mzc?/ and Laneham (1575) writes eend, eendeth 
The spellings frend RJ 3 2 61 (Q), etc , T 5 i 120, f rends AYL 3 i 27, 
H5 2 1 109 (''be friends, be f rends*'), f rinds TNK 5 4 124 suggest vacilla- 

4 ^‘Unexplained” according to VarEd, p 422 Kellner, p 13 1, interprets it as “leg- 
gings” ! 

5 Such rhymes are frequent in Spenser {R%me, §§94, 99) , Marlowe has shield 
held, and Sidney shield build yield 

6 Hodges (1643) couples wild in wilde-man (which may well have had [i] 
through shortening before d-m) and wield See, however, p 201, n 7, below 

7 Cf steld dweld beheld RL I 444“7 Phonologically a rhyme steeVd held, le, 
[sti Id] [hi Id], or even [stild] [hild], would be unassailable But see p 188, n 9, 

8 Sidney likewise rhymes fiend end, and Googe fiend end, friend 


tion between [§] and [i] in jnend with preference for [^], while in fiend 
and end [^], [i], and [i ] may have been used interchangeably 

The spellings live (lief) AC 2 7 13, C 4 5 185, H 3 2 4, 2H4 i 2 47 (Q), 
Hs 3 7 63, atchtve TA 2 i 79, 80, 106 (Q), atchv'd AC 3 i 20, g)ive P 
I 2 99, gnvde TA 2 3 260 (Q), and reprives MWW 228 (Q) raise cer- 
tain problems Seen in relation to the pun hef-Itve, the five examples of 
hve (probably so spelled on the analogy of give, live) suggest a short 
vowel [i] in hef (with v from the originally inflected forms) Similarly [i] 
may have been used as a variant of [1 ] in achieve, rhyming twice with 
hve (see p 213, below), and perhaps also in grieve and reprieve, though 
there are no unambiguous rhymes to confirm the existence of such a pro- 
nunciation ® 

A short vowel is perhaps indicated in illiads (oeillades) MWW i 3 68, 
spelled chads L 4 5 25 (altads Q), and doubtless in Phibbus (Phoebus) 
MND I 2 37 (Bottom’s pronunciation) and codpis L 3 2 40 (Q, cf cod- 
piss, OED) Note also by for unstressed be AYL i 3 128, and hidiously 
TC 42 13 (F) for tediously (Q), probably a misreading of tidiously or 
some such spelling, for which see OED For the confusion of piVd MV 
I 3 85, pild RL 1167, 1169 (from pill) with peeled see OED and Shake- 
speare's Poems, VarEd , p 211 

The p pie of shriek appears as shrekt MWW i i 309, which looks like a 
shortened form on the analogy of kept, but the occurrence of such spellings 
as wipt (wiped) RL 608, 2H6 2 465 and bakt-meats Hi 2 180 suggests 
that shrekt really stands for shreked , cf shreek RL 307 and shriek'd 3H6 
5 644, as well as beweept H 4 5 38 But the spellings bettles (Q2) and 
heckles (Q) for beetles H i 4 71 can hardly mean an34hing else than the 
short vowel [^] Rechie MA 3 3 143 is an ambiguous spelling, cf reechie 
C 2 I 225 with a Jingle on richest Sheepeheards MND i i 184 (Q , 
ee= [i] ^) and sheapheards RL 1502 (eazzz [^] ^) are probably only 
typographical variants (see OED) 

The use of ea for ME e is very rare, beast for beest ( < OE beast) in 
beast-eating TNK 3 5 131 being the most interesting case,^ note also 
meafing (meeting) WT i 2285, yealds (yields) L 4644 (Q), and yea 
(ye) R3 i 2 loi (Qi“2), like the rhyme almighty fight yea revealing the 
leveling of yea and ye ® In Pheazar (vizier) MWW 1310 {Phesser Q) 
ea may stand for [§( )] or [1 ] , it is Mrs Quickly’s pronunciation of 
vezir (6-9 , < Turkish vezir, OED), apparently with hypercorrect initial 

9 Spenser (Rime, §§86, 88) rhymes reprieve live give drive, reprive strive, etc 

1 See my article “The Beast-eating Clown ” 

2 Hodges (1643) couples yee and yea as pronounced alike 



f as in fartuous for virtuous y influence from jeeze (spelled pheeze TS 
pr I I ) should perhaps also be reckoned with The rhyme bleeds sheeds 
proceeds has been discussed on p 187, above 

ME er as in deer^ dear will be dealt with under ME f 

ea in sea 

In a sense it was a disservice to the study of eNE phonology when the 
development of ME | to St E [1 ] as in sea, mean was interpreted as a 
regular phonetic process, graphically representable in this way [e ] > 
[^ ] > [1 ] ^ logical product of its time, this sound-law naturally enough 
won universal acceptance Yet its only merits were its persuasive sim- 
plicity and, in terms of the corresponding change of ME e> [1 ] , its 
attractive, symmetrical structure as ME ^ [e ] started moving toward 
[1 ], ME I [e ] began to move too, so that when ME e had become [1 ], 
its vacant place in the sound-system was eventually, though not imme- 
diately, taken by [e ] < ME f , having gamed momentum, however, ME 
I did not stop here but kept on moving until the two sounds ME | and 
ME e were finally leveled under [1 ] some time in the latter half of the 
17th century This law became almost an axiom, the validity of which 
was never challenged Unfortunately it blinded the student to the lin- 
guistic realities The law’s inherent incompatibility with the very com- 
plicated history of ME ^ within the local dialects and with the increasing 
and embarrassing amount of early spelling and rhyme material suggesting 
a different chronology and a different path of development in St E itself 
was either ignored as irrelevant or explained away with much ingenuity 
and not a little casuistry Originally proposed as an explanation of certain 
linguistic phenomena in eNE, the sound-law has, in other words, become 
sacrosanct As such it is the accepted explanation of [1 ] < ME | in almost 
every students’ history of English, even the most recent ® 

No wonder, then, that a dissenting voice found it extremely hard to 
make itself heard In his Htstory of Modern Colloquial English (pp 
209 ff ), first published in 1920, and A Short History of English (§232), 
H C Wyld convincingly repudiated the orthodox views and propounded 
a theory of development which seems to have found far too few adherents 
up to now On the strength of incontrovertible orthographic and orthoepic 
evidence he suggested that the establishment of modern St E [1 ] in heat, 
meat, etc , was “not m the nature of a sound change but merely the 
result of the abandonment of one type of pronunciation and the adoption 
of another ’’ The pronunciation eventually abandoned was ] , taught by 

3 Brunner, p 250 


Tuite ^ as late as 1726 and still typical of many dialects , throughout the 
1 6th century and probably for the major part of the 17th it appears to 
have been the polite sound, used by poets in their rhymes and, what is 
phonologically even more revealing, also in Shakespeare’s puns, like steal- 
stale As a survival of the old southern or Saxon dialect it was doomed 
to disappear under the increasing pressure of the southeastern type with 
Its [1 ] < ME f Wyld believed that this southeastern, colloquial variant 
[1 ] was the result of an early raising of ME f > ^, very likely in the first 
quarter of the 15th century, with an almost immediate raising of this new 
^ to [1 ], as Machyn’s spellings (about 1540) pryche (preach), spyking 
(speaking), etc , would seem to indicate ® 

Strictly speaking, Wyld’s explanation is merely a chronological modi- 
fication of the earlier theory with the significant difference that it does 
not apply to the vowel prevalent in 16th-century polite circles, which 
Wyld conceived of as having lagged at the [e ] stage, but only to its 
counterpart in one particular area that was of considerable importance 
for the further development of early St E Graphically Wyld’s theory may 
be represented thus 

[e ] ■■ ► [g ] « .> [6 ], becoming obsolete about 170a 


^[1 ], at first dialectal, then Standard 

In Bullokar (pp 40 ff ) Zachrisson accepted Wyld’s theory in its es- 
sentials, arguing like him for the coexistence of two pronunciations m 
Shakespeare’s time, one conservative with [e ] and the other advanced 
with [1 ] , the latter obviously in the end becoming the St E sound Though 
I fully share the belief of Wyld and Zachrisson in the coexistence of [^ ] '^ 
and [1 ] for ME g during the i6th century, at first with a decided regional 
or class distinction between the two sounds, I cannot quite accept their 

4 Tuite, pp 40 f , distinguishes between ea in bear, swear ^ teafy wear, weary y early y 
pear, break y great y which he calls his ^‘second sound” of eay that is, ], and his 
“third sound,” that is, [1 ], in appear y cheary deary dean, dear, year, near, hear, 
arrear, instead, read, weasel He then adds this highly significant remark in 
most other words has the second sound according to some, and the third sound ac- 
cording to others, especially Londoners, as in the following words, flea, plea, pea, 
sea, tea, pease, bean, please, weal, meat, eat, ear, fear, neat,” etc 

5 Wijk’s explanation of these spellings (pp 97 f) is too farfetched Sir John 
Paston writes lyve (leave) , with y written over e, according to Davis, p 25 

6 This intermediate stage is not given by Wyld 

7 Neither Wyld nor Zachrisson recognizes this vowel quality, intermediate be- 
tween the half-close [e ] and the half-open [e ], neither of which can have been the 
sound normally heard for independent ME § about 1600 



explanation of the origin of the [1 ] Though Wyld’s suggestion may be 
right, It strikes me nevertheless as far too speedy a process of change even 
assuming that southeastern ME | had become [e ] at the very beginning 
of the NE period, 1 e , shortly after 1400, the time allowed for its fuither 
change to [1 ] is not much more than a hundred years For this leason I 
prefer to assign the complete process of change of ME | to ^ to the ME 
period, so that the new ^ f could participate in the raising of original 
ME ^ to [1 ] about 1400 In other words, I envisage a southeastern dialect 
area in which ME | and e had been completely leveled under [e ] in the 
14th centuiy at the latest 

There are many indications that this leveling had really taken place in 
late ME First of all we have a well-known sound-change, which is rarely 
given due prominence in discussions of [1 ] < ME | I refer to the many 
common words having OE ^ or if* as their basic vowel, e g , clean, read 
In the southeast (and elsewhere) ® all of them were pronounced with ME 
e < OE e and hence with [1 ] from about 1400 on Secondly, frequent 
rhymes between ME f < OE m and ME e m Lydgate and other poets 
from the southeastern area ceitainly point to a raising of this | to f , it 
IS immaterial for the present study whether this was a late or an early ME 
change ® With regard to the lengthened product of OE e in an open syllable, 
as in OE etan > ME Iten, it strikes me as illogical to postulate that OE 
e, which was lengthened to f > ME e in field and from 1200 was raised to i 
before dentals, nasals, and palatals as in togider (together), would at the 
very same time be lengthened in an open syllable to f all over the country 
as in ME stolen (steal < OE stelan) versus ME fill (fell) May it not 
be that in some dialects early ME e retained its comparatively close quality, 

8 Our handbooks, eg, Jordan, §§48!, tell us that e in the Kentish and 

Anglian dialects, whereas is supposed to have become ME e in Kent and before 
dentals also m the east Since the dentals comprise not only the majority of the con- 
sonants ( [t, d, 0 , t 5 , s, z, J, 3, tj, d5, r, 1 ] ) but also the statistically most frequent ones 
(see Sf Dial, §263, n i), the absence of conclusive examples of e before other con- 
sonants may be purely accidental, note however, that in Chaucer's language sea 
always has f (ten Brink, §24) I am convinced, therefore, that as regards the south- 
eastern area there was no difference between and m this respect , see also Sf 
Dial, §§260 ff Wyld's rhyme cleane bene from 1528 (p 209) is an instance of this 
southeastern early ME e and cannot therefore be used to piove his theory of an 
eNE raising of f > [1 ] 

9 See Sf Dial , §§260 ff , Mackenzie and Fischer in Enghsche Studien, 61, 386 ff , 
and 64, iff With regard to Fischer's attempt to explain away the ea e rhymes see 
Sf Dial, §263, n I If, as is generally assumed, the first element of the Kentish 
diphthong ea was a close vowel, why could not this be equally true of the south- 
eastern ea"^ When monophthongization set m, this [e o] would automatically have 
become # [e ] 


which when lengthened in an open syllable gave ^ ^ A few rhymes actually 
point to the close vowel, but the practice is to explain them away as inexact 
or analogical^ It is not impossible that a closer investigation of this 
problem might reveal the existence of a dialect area (probably in the 
southeast) in which there was no native § and in which, consequently, 
the native e replaced § in French loanwords Regardless of the correctness 
of this conjecture, we are certainly entitled to postulate a general raising 
of ME i (<, OE ea, e in an open syllable, and Fr f from various sources) 
to ^ [e ] in the southeast before the end of the ME period (OE (f" and if® 
already had e) This would be no more remarkable than the later, accepted 
change of ME ^ > [e ] > [i ] 

Owing to the strongly conservative character of [^ ] in sea, mean, 
which was no doubt accentuated as its use rapidly dwindled in the 17th 
century, the corresponding colloquial [1 ] had little difficulty in asserting 
Itself so vigorously that only five words now remain in St E to remind 
us of the once fashionable sound, viz , break, great, steak , yea, and drain 
( < OE dreahman) But they are not the only fossils of their kind place- 
names like Hayes, Mx (< OE Mse), Steyne, Mx (< OE st^ne), Dray- 
ton, Mx, spelled Dreaton 1684 (< OE drceg, tun), Neat, Mx (lost), 
spelled Neate 1556 (la Neyte 1320 <OE tgoS, eggo 8 ),Stetn Fm, Stains, 
and Old Steine, Sx (< OE st(^ne), and in Essex Eyston (< OE east, 
tUn), Deans, spelled Deanes al Deynes 1562 and pronounced [deinz] 
(< OE dene), and perhaps Waylate (-late < OE gel^tu) and Prating 
( < OE Fr^tingas) ^ tell the same story of the complete coalescence of 
ME f, d, and ai under this type of pronunciation, which was later aban- ^ 
doned for [1 ] from ME § and e but ] for ME a and ai The present setup 
in St E IS therefore not due to any unscrambling of the f-words from the 
rest according to strict etymological principles — ^an argument usually ad- 
vanced by those opposed to the theory of a leveling of ME d, and ai in 
early St E — ^but to the total abandonment of the latter type for another 
which kept ME f/f phonologically separate from ME d/ai That there 
should be a few disturbances in the pattern as revealed by the five words 
just mentioned is not in the least surprising, we might, indeed, have ex- 
pected more exceptions of that kind, yet their scarcity argues convincingly 
for the overwhelming strength of the colloquial type 

1 See Jordan, §33, Anm 2 Spek occurs with e in Cursor Mundi And Qiaucer^s 
rhymes st§le m§le, hfle, etc , are really not conclusive as proof of f < OE e since 
the rhyme words with alleged § had southeastern variants with e, thus m^le-mele, 

2 These last two names may be instances of the so-called East Saxon d for OE 
(Jordan, §50) For the etymologies of the above names see the respective volumes 
of the English Place-Name Society publications 



The fashionable or conservative pronunciation [? ] is well documented 
by rhymes, puns, and spellings Of the following rhymes some may be 
termed accidental (here marked with an asterisk) , they would be incon- 
clusive as evidence if we had no other rhymes of the same kind to adduce, 
but since we have, the accidental rhymes will also count defeated created, 
defeature nature, disease ease case, great state straight, head 
dead made, trade,^ peace days, graced face^ please grace, sea play, 
seat straight, speak awake, these days,^ weal prevail Such rhymes are 
very numerous in Spenser ^ 

The testimony of the puns is equally illuminating, with [§ ] implied in 
the following cases beast-abased, etc , beat-bate-bait, eat-hate, features- 
faitors, grease-grace, meal-male-mail, meat-maid, heave-have, heaven- 
haven, reasonr^aism-raising, re-^ay, sea-say, steal— stale, stealer— staler, 
sheep-shape,^ and the jingles mean-men, veal-well While a minor dif- 
ference in vowel quality between the words involved, say, between [§ ] 
and [e ],® would perhaps not have destroyed the pun, that possibility is 
excluded here, since we have other conclusive evidence that these words 
were homonyms , moreover, identity of sound seems almost imperative in 
cases of double-entendre like reason-raising, stealer-staler 

The spelling material is scanty Lane (lean) 1H4 2 4 520 (Q), spaches 
(speeches) LLL 52341 (Q), and hade land (head-land) 2H4 5116 
(Q) appear to be conclusive cases, hade land should be compared with 
the mining term hade < head (OED, but note hadland in a Massachu- 
setts document of 1637) Olde fasd 1H4 4 2 35 Q1-2 , old-fac'd F) for old 
f eas'd is of little use on account of its uncertain etymology, but the modern 
form [fi z] has all the appearance of a spelling-pronunciation For squeakt 
(Q2) BXidsquakt (Q) R3 i 4 54 .,rechate MA i i 243, a variant of recheat, 
and retrait 1H4 4 5 163 (Q), etc, see OED Streames RJ 4 i 47 for 
straines (Q2) may be an inverted spelling showing the coalescence of 
ME f and ai or it may be equally due to the printer misreading an original 

3 The F reading is they dayes, whereas Q makes this a scene-ending couplet 
these days 

4 Rime, §iop In The Pepys Ballads, nature rhymes with creature and feature 
(j, 61, 62, 173, 24s), while in I, 202, we find this interesting triple rhyme creature 
await her water Sea rhymes with play (Guilpin) and way (Pepys), but with 
bee me in A Gorgeous Gallery (p 61), etc 

5 This seems to be a pun on a variant (dialectal) pronunciation of sheep with 
[? ] or [§] , the former may still be heard in Sf 

6 In Hagberg's Swedish translation of Hamlet the Clown in Act 5, sc i, puns 
on greve (count) and idod)gravare (grave-digger) , the former word has [e ], 
the latter [§ ] in Standard Swedish, but not in the Stockholm dialect, where it, too, 
has [e ] 


streines as str ernes and respellmg it streames Dreames (Q) for dratnes 
(Q2) H 1410 may be an analogous case or simply a misreading of the 
etymologically correct valiant dreanes as dreames Aygre H i 5 69 (F) 
for eager (Q1-2) is best explained as a doublet, which retained the diph- 
thong of OF aigre ^ 

The most plausible sound to postulate for ME § (and ME d/ai) about 
1600 IS [^ ], the long equivalent of St E e in get, it is a quality interme- 
diate between [e ] in G sehen and [e ] in Fr meme or the first constituent 
of the St E diphthong [ea] The conflicting statements of the early ortho- 
epists may be due partly to dialectal differentiations, partly to their in- 
ability to make exact comparisons a vowel like ] may by some have 
been identified with the closer sound [e by others with the opener [e ] 
Thus Wallis (1653) on the one hand compares his § to the Fr ''e mascu- 
linum” and on the other couples it with his short e, which is also analyzed 
as e (Lehnert, §115) , his vowel may just as well have been [§ ] as the 
usually postulated [e ] , as for Miege’s (1685) [e ] for ME f it was north- 
ern, as I have shown in Mather Flint p xli The suggested [? ] for ME | 
in the fashionable speech of the late i6th and early 17th centuries allows for 
the original ME sound [t ] to become somewhat raised in due course with- 
out being too divergent from the vowel in ME §r, which retained the 
openei quality [e ] but which is not recognized as a distinct sound until 
much later Moreover, there is really no need for this [§ ] to be raised 
further to [e ] m order to become diphthongized to [ei] and later lowered 
again to [^i], as is generally assumed, for [^ ] could easily have been 
diphthongized to [^i] direct, a development that has occurred in dialectal 
[^i] for ME e in bed, egg, etc , this is, however, a problem of 18th-century 
phonology which need not concern us here The quality ] may perhaps 
be inferred from the spellings peasauns (Fr paysans) 1H6 3 2 14, jeate 
(faites), preat (pret) H5 4436 (Q), Capapea (cap-a-pe) H 12200 
(Q1--2), and perhaps de-peech (depeche) MWW 1457? cf Bischofs 
-geet for -gate in a Swiss travel-account of 1599 (Angha, 22, 458), and 
Wodroephe’s voomaimes (vous-memes), teat (tete) 

The colloquial [1 ] is evidenced chiefly by rhymes and a few spellings ® 
By grouping the rhymes et3miologically we see at once that practically 
every ancestral sound of ME | is linked with the reflex of ME e or i Thus 

7 For the double development of OF m in ME see Jordan, §233 

8 Gill ( 1621 ) was annoyed with the Mopsae of his day because they used to say mlt 
[mi t] instead of met [m§ t] (meat), and hv [li v] instead of lev [1§ v], as good a 
proof as any that the current colloquial vowel for ME f was [1 ] about 1600 See 
Logonomia Angkca, p 33, Zachnsson, English Vowels, pp I 7 S ^ » ^ind my article 
“Alexander Gill,** pp 287 f 



we have the southeastern e < OE a m speech eche ( < OE ecan, spelled 
speach each), read deed,^ reading proceeding weeding a-breeding, 
leaving grieving, leave him believe in, sea free,"^ thee,^ teach beseech, 
speech,^ teach thee beseech thee, teach you beseech you, and upheaveth 
relieveth , OE ea in dream argentine, queen, reave her relieve her, and 
(with late OE e < M) yea three, fight yea almighty , OE e in speak 
cheek, § of OF origin in empleached beseeched enriched, extremes 
deems, seems, please knees, pleased eased missed This is quite a con- 
vincing list of [i ] -rhymes, which, incidentally, agrees with the practice 
of Spenser, who does not hesitate to rhyme, e g , read, sea, dream, extreme 
with original ^-words ^ The few relevant puns give a less cleai picture 
than the rhymes Meat-meet (adj ), weed-weed, and heal-heel are am- 
biguous, but meat-meet (vb), peace-piece, and the doubtful wheal-wheel 
point to [i ], perhaps also the jingle leaving-living (cf the rhyme above), 
but there is no pun steal-steel VA 375, as suggested by Feuillerat (p 146) 
Nor are the spellings particularly illuminating In the following examples 
ee very likely stands for [1 ] heesome C 2 i 71, 2H6 4 7 34, inseemed 
(enseamed F) H 3 492 (Q2), saltpeeter 1H4 i 3 60 (Q), teeme (team) 
TGV 3 1265, threed(e) H5 3649 (Q), MND 5 i 348 (Q), P i 2 107, 
RJ 2 2 181 (Q2), RL 400,^ threeden LC 33, sleeve (sleave) ^ M 2 2 37, 
so does perhaps le in skiene TC S i 35, unless it is an error for skeine, 
whereas recive't AC 2 3 42 appears to be an early doublet with i , ® note also 
Diomid TC 5 2 137 Stead, rhyming twice with dead, is otherwise nearly 
always steed, e g , 1H4 538 (Q), M 5 3 26, O i 3 34S» TGV 2 i 119, a 
form that may go back to OE styde, becoming either ME stide > stede or 
southeastern stede > stede ® In wilde (< OE weald) 1H4 2 i 60 pho- 

9 Strictly speaking, inconclusive, for deed, too, has e < OE but included here on 
account of the next rhyme Note dead 0 erread (inf ), which employs the conserva- 
tive [§ ] in read and probably also in dead, though this may well be a purely tradi- 
tional rhyme (see below) 

1 Also with e < OE a , speech rhymes, besides, with reach Cf further leach 
(leech) each 

2 Rime, §53 In Gammer Gurton s Needle we come across the rhymes sweat feet 
2 1 57-8, ease Bees 3 3 73-4 and the spelling geare for give her 3 3 35 Shakespeare’s 
rede erne diademe 1H6 2 5 88-9, perhaps an accidental rhyme, agrees with Chaucer’s 
dxademe deme (deem), seme (seem), queme, indicating the use of f m diademe 
Levins (1570), too, rhymes diadeeme with deem, seem, esteem, redeem, etc, while 
Spenser has diademe erne, feme (team) , both f- words 

3 Cf neede pacthreede, Gammer Gurton' s Needle 1 2 15-16 

4 Hodges (1643) gives sleave and sleeve as homonyms **Hee put eight shaves 
of silk, into his wide sleeves ” 

5 See Zachrisson, English Vowels, p 71, and OED 

6 Butler (1634) and Hodges (1643) couple steed and stead as pronounced alike 



netic leveling with mid seems to have taken place, probably via monoph- 
thongization to I of the Kentish (or southeastern) diphthong le <C,ea'^ 
The spellings sapego MM 3 i 31, suppeago TC 2 3 81 for serpigo show 
that e and ea could stand for [1 ] , the modern pronunciation [so'paigo] 
is clearly due to the spelling ® 

The unstable quantity of ME f is a noticeable feature of i6th- and 17th- 
century pronunciation On the one hand several words pronounced short 
today still preserved their originally long vowel, while on the other, short- 
ening of the vowel appears to have been more widespread than in present- 
day usage We notice here two opposite trends at work simultaneously 
an advanced, colloquial type of pronunciation, very likely of regional 
origin, tending to shorten every ] to [^], and a conservative type ad- 
hering to the the time-honored ] The result of this tug of war was, as 
we know, a compromise, with f^] in words like head^ deaf but [1 ] in 
read, leap, etc Like Spenser,® Shakespeare was familiar with two pro- 
nunciations of some of the words in question, even allowing for tradi- 
tional rhyming Thus dead, which is usually short, rhymes with made and 
o'erread, dread with hed and mead, great with get, Plantagenet, and defeat, 
state, head with bed, etc (normally short), and made, speak with deck 
and break etc (normally long) , while heaven, rhyming with even, is used 
in a pun on haven , it is spelled hevens T i 2 175 and was almost certainly 
short when monosyllabic (see p 260, below) But the principal difference 
between Shakespeare’s usage in this respect and our own is his short 
vowel [^] in a considerable number of woids now pronounced with 
[1 ] , the following is a list of such words (rhymes and spellings), with 
some supporting evidence from other sources 

bedded (beaded) LC 37 , bead is given with a short vowel by Tuite (1726) , 

cf bedde 5-6 (OED) 

beast blessed, jest, rest , there is also a pun beast-best, as well as the 

Hart (1570) has [1 ] m stead (p 66), but Bullokar (1585) has [? ] (p 46) In 
spite of such a rhyme as lere here, I find it difficult to believe that the lengthening 
of southeastern e <C OE y in an open syllable resulted in f, as assumed by Jordan, 

7 Several ME ^-spellings of OE ea in southern place-names, including Wildemore 
1274 W%lde 1346 for Wield, Ha, have been quoted in my PN Wt, p xciii, they 
seem to substantiate the above suggestion that this dialectal i(e) coalesced with 
original i EDD (mid, sh ) has an interesting note saying “Hence mid people, 
the inhabitants of the Weald in Sx, so called by the inhabitants of the Downs 

8 Heywood (1637) has sarpego (OED), an intermediate form between serpigo 
and Shakespearean spellings, which show loss of the precons onantal r (see p 316, 

9 For numerous parallels see Rtme, §§99 ff 



Spelling hestly TC 5105 (Q),^ but [? ] is used in the pun beast-abased 
bequeath death, breath, but bequeathed, rhyming with unsheathed 
breathed, may have had [^ ] , perhaps, therefore, a rhyme between 
[§ ] and [?] 

deal fen^Z/, cf Henslowe’s spelling but note sealing 

decease confess (also increase, lease, which are ambiguous , see below) , 
OED cites dec ess {e) 4-7, which is actually the spelling used in VA 1002, 
and Hodges (1643) lists cease and cesse as homonyms, cf the Q2 
spelling cesse (cease, n ) H 3315 
east breast, detest, rest, west , Spenser has east best, west 
eats gets and eaten sweat en ( ^ , sweaten seems to be a nonce formation, 

entreats frets 

feast best, breast, guest, jest, rest, and least, for which see below 
greater better 

heaped unswept , cf Spenser’s kept lept, underkept 
heat get, sweat , the p pie appears as he ate J 4 i 61 , cf also Spenser’s pun 
Somers-het-Somerset, Prothalamion 67 
heath Macbeth 

increasing blessing, releasing (see below) , G and P Fletcher rhyme it 
with dressing oppressing, and Samuel Butler has increasing lessen 
leap unswept, leaps steps, overleap step, also leap reap (with [^] or 
[^ ] ^) , cf the homonyms leaper-leper (Hodges and others) and the 
spelling leaper (leper) 2H6 3 2 75 
lease excess, decease , see above 

least breast feast, possessed, least-lest aie homonyms according to 
Hodges and other orthoepists , cf the frequent spelling least (lest) , e g , 
MV 2 2 196, T 4 I 169, etc , which is, of course, ambiguous 
leavy heavy ( ^) 

peace bless, cease (^), also grace 

plead buried, cf pledde 5, pled 5-7 (OED), and Spenser’s rhyme plead 
womanhead dread bread (bred) 
releasing possessing, increasing , see above 

Some of these rhymes, e g , bequeath death, entreats frets, leavy 
heavy, should perhaps be interpreted as linking ] and [^] like the 
Jingles mean-men, veal— well mentioned above 

I Modern editors tend to accept the OED conjecture that tn the best H i s 27 (Q2, 
F) IS a uniquely Shakespearean variant of at best The Q reading tn the least is hardly 
to be preferred But if we take best to be a spelling of beast, the line becomes intelli- 
gible (**Murther most foul, as in the beast it is”) , note that in the next line Q 
has beastly (“But mine most foule, beastly, and unnaturall”), for the Q2, F strange 


Several spellings, too, indicate the short vowel [§] berod 2H4 i 2 192 
(Q, heare-heard F), be{a)rard 2H6 5 i 149, 210, berrard MA 2 i 43, 
bredth AW 3 2 26, brest R J i 4 no, etc , breth RJ 2531, clenly 1H4 

2 4 SOI, defend (deafened) P 5 i 47, ech (each) RL 70, iioi, VA 242, 
969, etc (frequent), endevors MV 2 2 182, heddy 1H4 2 3 58 (Q), mad- 
hedded 1H4 2380 (Q), leds R3 4353 (note also leaders leade AC 

3 7 70 = leader's led), lethren MND 2 2 4 (Q), pemnt TGV 4 4 47, etc , 
pescod L I 4219, etc, prechment 3H6 1472 (Q), red (read, pple) 
P Ipr8, repelde (repealed) 2H6 32349 (cf repell 5-6, OED), rept 
(reaped) 1H4 1334 (Q), Renmsh H i 4 10 (Q2),MV 3144, sheth 
MWW 2 3 87 (Q , for this form see OED), spred RJ 3 2 5, etc , sted 
MV I 3 7, 4 I 161, steddter 2H6 4 7 loi, swet 1H6 4 4 18, etc , swetting 

0 3 4 42 (Q), thred C 3 i 124, etc , unnaneld H i 5 77, yest WT 3 3 95, 
yesty H 5 2 199 (spelled hsty Q2), M 4 i 53 

The rhyme fever never and the spelling feaver AC 3 13 138 are not 
easily reconciled with the commonly held view that fev&r originally had 
ME e < OF %e,^ nor is the Sf (and Nf ) pronunciation [fg vo] Hodges 
(1644), too, had ] in fever^ and it is clear therefore, as Kauter (§31) 
rightly suggests, that the basic vowel must have been ME | and that the 
origin of this form with ME f was OE fefer, whose vowel was lengthened 
in ME times to | In the above rhyme both fever and never might have had 

] or, more likely, [§] or [i] as a result of vowel shortening with or 
without subsequent raising to [i] as in dialectal [hivi] by the side of 
[h§vi] , a linking of ] and [^] is also possible Leavers (levers) 1H4 
2 2 36 IS an ambiguous spelling, whose ea may indicate a short or a long 
vowel For the rhyme weary merry we have the Spenser parallels weary 
merry, cherry, suggesting a short vowel in weary, which is actually used 
by Bullokar and, as a variant of [^ ], perhaps also by Gill ® The p t of 
eat appears as eate in TS 4 i 200 (“She eate no meate to-day, nor none 
shall eate''), a form that agrees with Hodges' homonyms eat and ate (“I 
eat my meat to day, better han I ate it yesterday") Kittredge, who is fond 
of making long vowels metrically disyllabic, suggests this makeshift in 
speake H 4 4 17, RJ 3 5 174 , in the former instance Pope wanted to add %t 
after speak to supply the missing thesis, but a pause would do just as well 
here as in the second case 

The contracted form of even, which often appears as e'ene, e'ne, or 
ev'n, e g , in H 51 201, AC i 2 50, H8 2 i 2, is spelled in AC 4 15 72, 

2 Jordan, §231 None of the early spellings cited in OED need imply ME | < OF 
%e, not even fyver 4-5, whose y may indicate a short vowel or reflect the southeastern 

1 < OE i postulated above 

3 Bullokar, p 30, and Rime, §99 



AW I 3 45 ( ^), RJ 5 I 24 (Q2), TN i 5 168 ( ^) , combined with now, 
so, to, It becomes enow 2H4 2285 (Q) — cf the homonyms even now- 
tnow—tnough in Hodges (1643) — H i i 108 (Q2), and ento't H 
2 2 450 (Q2) , perhaps also tnto C 2 i 223 (into a rapture, which Theobald 
ingeniously wished to emend to e'en to a rupture) In view of the rhyme 
even heaven, favoring ] as the common vowel, the contractions e'ene 
and e'ne may stand for either [§ n] or [1 n] , ^ when shortened m weakly 
stressed positions, these would give en and %n as in the above combinations 
with now, so, and to This would also be a satisfactory explanation of the 
AC and RJ instances of in, which on the other hand may equally well be 
interpreted as phonetic spellings of [in], particularly AC 4 15 72, where 
the word is stressed (“No more but in a woman”) ® The noun even is 
likewise contracted to en in the phrase godden C 2 i 103, RJ i 2 57, good 
den MA 3 2 83, God dig-you-den LLL 4 i 42 , also good-ev'n TGV 
2 1 105 ® Evil IS monosyllabic in Cy i i 72, 5 5 60, M 4 3 57, MM i 2 134 
and may have been pronounced in the same way as the famous eale H 
I 4 36 (Q2, F), whose ea may mean [§ ] or [1 ] , the latter vowel seems 
preferable considering the Q form ill for evill 2H4 i 2 186 (prose) ® and 
the converse use of evills for ills inH3i8i(Q) For the rhyme evil devil 
see p 188, above, and for the very common, contracted forms e'er and ne'er, 
p 324, below 

An examination of the words having ME er and reveals a phonologi- 
cal situation which at first glance seems to border on the chaotic It is clear 
that er and §r had become leveled in the sense that their reflexes [1 j] and 
[e x] could be used almost indiscriminately, thus making it very hard, in- 
deed, to determine the individual pronunciation On the other hand, it is 
also clear that some of the words show a marked preference for either [1 x] 
or [e j] Since Shakespeare’s rhyming practice coincides with Spenser’s 
{Rime, §110) and with those of other 16th-century poets, this vacillation 
between [1 x] and [e x] is attributable partly to the effect of a very strong 
rhyming tradition, partly to the dialectal differentiation in the develop- 
ment of ME I discussed above, and partly to phonological trends of a more 

4 Gill (1621), who insists on ^ ] for ME has nevertheless t [1 ] in even and 


5 These spellings may have been in Shakespeare’s own manuscript , see the discus- 
sion on p 25, above 

6 That even had a full form with shortened vowel is apparent from the spellings 
gud devon 5, god deven 6 in OED, where we find, besides, the contracted variant 
-deen 6-7, doubtless with [1 ] 

7 See p 188, above, with a discussion of the parallel deale < devil 

8 The contracted form [il] or [1 1 ] is deliberately used here to obtain a pun 


limited scope and duration How the more significant words with ME 
er, qr rhyme in Shakespeare will appear from the tabular surveys below 
The first table does not include the extremely rare rhymes with ME fr of 
OF origin or the equally rare instances of rhymes with restressed er as in 
villager By comparing the figures of this table with those of the second, 
which purports to illustrate the interrh)Tning of the 15 commonest words 
in Table I {bear, n , and bear, vb, have here been lumped together), and 
whenever necessary with the entries in the Rhyme Index, we shall be able 
to arrive at some general conclusions as regards Shakespeare’s pronuncia- 
tion of ME er and fr, the puns and the spellings may help us to be more 
specific in some of the cases 



We are not surprised to find that words (Group i above) rhyme 
regularly with others of the same category, with those having the south- 
eastern e < OE (f, and with ea- words now pronounced [19] , the usual 
sound was no doubt [1 j], though exceptions do occur (see below) 

Of the ^-words, those pronounced with [19] today rhyme quite fre- 
quently with e, the rest more often with f , the 13 instances of there include 
7 rhymes with here, 3 with dear, 2 with appear, and i with cheer Vacilla- 
tion between [1 j] and [e j] is to be expected in Group 2a, but only [e j] 
m 2 b 

The words having lengthened OE e (Group 3) naturally rhyme very 
frequently with f , though wear is linked more often with e than with | 
(and d) The most likely pronunciation was [s j] 

The four Ja-words, all pronounced with [19] today, rhyme more often 
with e and e < OE than with other f-words Vacillation between [1 x] 
and [e i] is to be expected in this group 
Rhyming with d and ai is more frequent in Groups 2 b, 3, and 4 than in 
I and 2a 

The rhymes consequently show a distribution pattern of [u] and 
[e j] which on the whole foreshadows the present usage Disturbances 
or deviations are due to doublets current either in Shakespeare’s own 
time or at any rate when the rhyme in question was first used Thus the 
words of Group i above (ME e), which rhyme pretty often with unques- 


tionable [e j], must at one time or another have had variants with this 
[e j], going back to a late ME lowering of er > §r in certain regional or 
class dialects This development can actually be instanced from some of the 
early orthoepists the opener sound [e ] is used by Smith (1568) m dear, 
by Hart (1570) in hear, by Bullokar (1585) in here, hear, weary, fierce, 
and by Gill ( 1621 ) m cheerful, fere, fierce, hearing, weary, and interchang- 
ing with [1 j] in dear ® Most of these words are still pronounced with [e ] 
or [eo] in a good many dialects The historical spelling, too, betrays the 
once open quality of the vowel appear, dear, hear In Shakespeare we 
find chaire (cheer C 4752 (but see p 179, n i), cheare 3H6 225, 
5 465, TA 4488, chearless L 5 3290 (Q), deare (deer) AYL 42 ii, 
L 3 4 144, LLL 41 1 16, MND 2 2 43, VA 689 (all in rhyme), heares 
(here’s) TmA 3621, and pheare (fere) TNK 5 i 116, which agrees 
well with the rhyme fere heir , some of these may, of course, be inverted 
spellings Particularly revealing are Shakespeare’s puns here apparent- 
heir apparent and here-hare, which make it certain that he knew and 
perhaps even preferred the vanant [(h)8 j] But the spelling apparance 
C 4 S 65 has no phonological significance , see apparence, OED It is 
hard to say, however, what the spellings fearce (fierce) MND 4 i 72 (Q) , 
feare (fierce, an obvious misprint) ^ H i i 121, pearce L i 4368 (Q), 
pearst MND 3259 (Q, pierst F), S 466, TA 4431 (Q), and en^ 
pearced RJ i 4 19 really signify Their ea may stand for [e ] or for 
[3 ] < ME er, as probably in percing RL 1091 , Falstaff’s pun Percy- 
pierce him points to the latter variant, but Holofernes’ wordplay pierce 
one-person^parson suggests yet another variant, parse, with er > dr, 
evidenced in such early spellings as parsoure, parser (see p 134, above) , 
nothing forbids us, of course, to assign the vowel [a ] to Falstaff’s pun 
as well Almost as ambiguous is beard, spelled herd TN 4 2 70 and rhym- 
ing with heard and herd it may have had [3 ] , a pronunciation reported 
by Nares (1784) to be still used on the stage, or [e ] (cf the jingle 
baring-beard) , or even [1 ], the antecedent of modern [lo] Compiers 
S 86 7 looks like a phonetic spelling, and so does stirrage (steerage) RJ 
I 4 112, with shortening of the vowel, but lyre (leer) MWW i 3 50 (Q) 
goes back to a ME variant with i (OED) For the eNE orthographic 
confusion between peere (’pear = appear) WT 431, peereth (< peer) 
TS 43 176, also spelled piering MV i i 19, TA 218 and pire see OED 
{peer, vb 2) 

9 Bullokar, p 50, Luick, §508, Anm i 

I The same kind of misprint occurs mH45i5i (Qa), where we find peare for 
pierce F , some editors prefer, however, the Q2 form, interpreting it as an aphseretic 
variant of appear (as m WT 431) 



Of the words m Gioup 2, bier, rhyming with here (3x) and tear (n ), 
and rear, rhyming with clear, here, affeared, may have had [1 i] , but 
note bear S 12 8 and Gill’s transcription ber, which rather point to [e ] 
as the favored vowel On the other hand there was probably general vacilla- 
tion between [1 j] and [s j] in fear, [fe j] may actually have been the 
commoner variant, for it is used in a pun on fair and has, moreover, the 
support of Hart, Bellot, Bullokar, Gill, and Butler The ^-rhymes with 
there, were, where, however, are not significant enough to suggest a 
variant with [1 j] in these words, they lather indicate the use of [e jl] in 
the ^-words, even in beer, which is still pronounced with [^0] in Sf and 
Nf The spellings weare (were) S 98 ii and were (wear) MWW i 3 84 
(Q), TNK I 3 73 show the leveling of the two words, while wer MND 
I I 20iandze;5r’fLLL5 2 627 (weartQ) reflect the unstressed form [woj], 
which later gave rise to the restressed variant [ w3 ] Note also their (there) 
S 93 5 Of considerable interest are the two spellings ayre-remayning 
P 3 I 63 and are P 3 pr 8, showing the coalescence of the contracted form, 
[e jl] < ever with the reflexes of ME air and dr, ^ the corresponding 
[ne 1] < never is doubtless hidden in burthen are CE 5 i 402, to be read 
burthen ne'er ^ 

Although wear rhymes twice with deer, we can safely assume that words 
of Group 3 normally had [e j] , a variant of deer with [e j] is as plausible 
as the above [ds i] for dear, cf Sf [deo] ^ Note particularly the pun 
bear-iare and the spelling swaring H 3 3 91 (Q) Spear, rhyming with 
here, tear (n ), and there, probably had [1 j] and [e 1] , the latter pro- 
nunciation, which was used by Bullokar and Gill, agrees with Machyn’s 
spares, spayre ® If there is a pun peer-pear, this would imply the use of 
[1 j] as a variant of [e i] in pear , such a pronunciation has been recorded, 
e g , from Nf and Sr The spelling sheere (shear) AYL 2 4 79 points to 
[1 j] So does tyring 2H4 pr 37 in '‘The Postes come tyring on,” which 
is best interpreted as teanng on, cf the stage direction “Enter, tearing 
in, Pasithas” in Suckling’s Aglaura (1637, OED) [tio] for tear (vb) is 
heard in many dialects, including that of So (EDGr, Index) 

The existence of eNE doublets of ear, near, tear, year with [1 ] and 

2 But are h S3 123 (Q) is only a misreading of am, as suggested by Duthie, p 
422 On the other hand, are in “And thereupon these errors are arose’* CE 5 i 388, 
could stand for e*er, cf CE 5 i 402 

3 So interpreted in CaEd , p 112, and by Kittredge 

4 Sf Dial, §271 and Glossary EDGr, Index, lists the same pronunciation from 

5 See Bullokar, p 37, and Wijk, pp loo f 


[e ] ® Will account for the manner xn which they rhyme The pun ^ar- 
here is phonologically ambiguous, but the spelling there (th'ear) TniA 
I 2131 definitely points to [s j] , note also the inverted spelling eare 
(ere) 1H4 2 4 129 (Q) The pun ears-years is likewise ambiguous, since 
It may indicate the use of a prosthetic fj] in ear — cf ye ere (ear) 2H4 

1 2218 (Q), yeares (ears) TA 23 160 (Q) — or the loss of initial [3] 
in year as probably in the pun here-year Near is written with ee R3 

2 3 26, 2 4 25, RJ 351, 192, indicating [1 ], whereas the inverted spell- 
ing neare (ne’er) R3 i i 117 (Q2) reveals the alternative vowel [e ], 
used also in the pun near-ne'er 

In [1 j] and [e j] a glide, [9], could develop before the [j], but to 
judge from the metrical evidence the practice is not consistent thus in 
teare for teare TA 53 156, the first teare is disyllabic [ti 9 j], the second 
monosyllabic [ti j] Deere (dear) T i 2466, too, is disyllabic, but I can- 
not agree with Kittredge that where MND 2 i 249 should “be prolonged 
so as to be disyllabic,” since this would involve the anomaly of a metrically 
stressed glide [9] , a pause after hank would supply the missing thesis 
here On the other hand weird, spelled weyward M i 3 32, etc , is clearly 
disyllabic there and elsewhere in M , the spelling reveals association with 
wayward (OED) 

ew m new, detv 

Though the relevant mateiial is scanty, there is nevertheless enough 
evidence to prove that in Shakespeare’s pronunciation ME eu in new, 
duty and §u in dew, jew had coalesced as in modern St E and were gen- 
erally pronounced [ju ], with certain well-defined exceptions (see below) 
Thus beauty, with ME §u, rhymes with duty (2x), which has eu, 
whereas dew rhymes once with jew and once with strew (ME ^u) , but 
the inveited spelling deazv (due) R3 37120, 2H4 4 5 37 (Q> P) 
confirms the suspicion that the absence of rhymes between dew, jew and 
^w-words like new, hue is purely accidental ^ So does the pun your-U-ewe 

Scholars have bestowed far too much energy on the relatively minor 

6 Thus Hart, Bullokar, Gill, and Butler have [e ] in ear (sounded ‘‘corruptly” 
ee according to Butler) , Smith and Gill have [a ] in tear, but Bullokar and Butler 
[1 ], etc , see Horn, p 76 

7 Spenser rhymes ME and indiscriminately {Rime, §78) In view of the 
above evidence, Ayres’ categorical statement (p 242) that Shakespeare refuses to 
rhyme new few strikes one as particularly imprudent But Hart (1570) distinguished 
between ME fw and ^u, see my paper “John Hart and Early Standard English,” 
P 247 



problem o£ whether m eNE the diphthong developed from ME eu was 
falling, level, or rising, that is, whether it was approximately [i u], [lu], 
or [ju ] ^ We should be particularly chary of placing much confidence in 
the descriptions of ew by the early orthoepists, who were unable to analyze 
adequately a phoneme like [ju ] and its allophones, very likely they 
confused the semivowel [i], as a variant of [j], with [i ], and they failed 
to notice the considerable fronting that [u ] m [ju ] might undergo ® 
and which prompted some of them to identify English [ju ] with Fr 
[y ] ^ The well-established fact that the initial [j] of [ju ] had become 
assibilated with a preceding ^ to [J] is proof enough that in the incipient 
Standard language the reflex of ME eu was no longer either a falling or 
a level diphthong Not only does Shakespeare pun on suit and shoot and 
on suitor and shooter but he spells shue (sue) LLL 3 i 206, shute (suit) 
MWW 2 I 220 (Q), 3 5 126 (Q), three shewted L 2 2 16 (Q), shout 
HS3681 (Qr, 3 ),^Ai^r^Hsi 28 (Q),MWW 3 i (Q),S 5 (Q) His 
puns you-yew and you-U—ewe likewise establish [j ] as the initial element 
of the phoneme, as do Henslowe’s spellings youse, yousse (use) ^ 

After r and I preceded by a consonant the glide in [ju ] has usually 
disappeared in modern St E a phenomenon that may be reflected in the 
puns Luce-loose^ luce-louse and perhaps also in the spelling trowant 
(truant) H i 2 169, 173 (Q) ^ 

Of considerable interest is the change of ME eu < OF u io i (e), 
not only in unstressed syllables as in accumilate S 117 10 but in stressed 
positions as well Zachrisson® has called attention to such late ME or 
eNE spellings as yistice (justice), syte (suit), kyryous (curious), etc, 
to which may be added the following from Henslowe (who frequently 
writes e fort) fenerall (funeral), jegetwes (fugitives) In Shakespeare 
we come across dishmes AC 4 14 10 {limn being a variant of lumine < 
OF lummer, which according to OED first appears in the 15th century), 
femetary (fumitory) H5 5 2 45, spelled fenitar (F) , femiter (Q) L 4 4 3, 
Gillian (Juliana) CE 3 i 31, militers (muleters) AC 3 7 36, and misicall 

8 See above all the discussion in Bullokar, pp 79 ff 

9 The resulting sound might be the central vowel [u ] or even the fully front 
l^ ] , see Jones, English Phonetics, §326, and Sf Dial, §§83 ff, 335 ff 

1 See Mather Flint, pp xliii ff 

2 For similar spellings see Wyld, pp 244, 293 

3 Jones, English Phonetics, §817 The early grammarians do not mention this 
change Hart (1570) records the same sound in blue as in due (p 75), but since his 
lu represents a monophthongal [xi ] and not [ju ], no conclusions can be drawn 
from his transcriptions, see my above-mentioned article (p 209, n 7) 

4. This spelling appears, however, as early as the 14th century (OED) 

5 Bullokar, p loi 



TNK I 3 76, as well as the remarkable rhymes confusion division, 
postentie obscuritie (the latter may, however, be a rh3rme m -ty) and 
the pun Jupiter-gibbeter , the rhyme juice voice with the corresponding 
development of OF u>i> [91] will be discussed on p 217, be- 
low All these forms provide the clue to the strange phonology of lieu- 
tenant the regular British pronunciation [l^f't^nont] clearly goes back 
to an earlier lij-, liv- as in Shakespeare's heftenant 2H4 5 S 95 (Q) 
and Gill's liftenant (1 = [1 ] ), m which ME eu first became iv and then 
if, later ef, through regressive assimilation Another example is the very 
common dialectal [d3ist] or [d3^st] for just In the early spellings quoted 
above from Zachrisson we seem to have a substitution of [i] for Fr [y], 
but the later forms from Henslowe and Shakespeare rather point to an 
eNE shortening of [ju ], or a fronted variant [ju ], to [i] with subse- 
quent lowering to [^] Periwig, as in pery-wig-pated H 3 2 1 1 (F , perwtg- 
pated Q2), shows the same development as Janivary, Jeniwary (January) 
and trivant, dialectal variant of truant, first recorded in 1621 (OED) ® 

Conversely there was a learned pronunciation of Greek v as [ju ], 
which resulted in hume for hymn, still occasionally heard in Sf It appears 
to be used in tomb dumb hymn, if indeed this is a triple rhyme 

Pucelle seems to have had a short vowel , see the quotation on p 82, 

The interchange of ( < OE eaw, eow, eow) and ou ( < the very 
same OE diphthongs with the stress on the second element, thus edw, 
eow, eow) in ME accounts for the doublets shrevu-shrow, shrewd- 
shrowd, strew-strow Shakespeare rhymes shrew(s), often spelled shrow, 
with o^s, show, so, woe, strezv with dew and so, and strewn with thrown, 
and he writes shrowd VA 500, etc, shroudly H i 4 i (Q2), shrowdly 
H5 3 7 163, etc , and shrodenesse AC 2 2 69 By the side of bestrow TS 
pr 2 42, strowd R2 i 3 289 he also has ore-strawd, rhyming with fraud, 
which goes back to a ME doublet with au (OED) ® 

Before r, eNE [ju ] could be lowered to [o ] or [0 ] like ME u in the 
same position, as the 17th-century spelling shore (sure) and Greene's 
rhyme more shure clearly show ® In Shakespeare we find one safe ex- 
ample of this change, common-shores P 4 6 186, which I take to be a col- 
loquial variant of common sewers despite the half-hearted attempt of OED 

6 For this development see Sf Dial, §§163, 339 For the opposite development of 
revel to rule in mght-rule MND 325 see my article “Shakespeare’s mght-rule ” 

7 For hume see Zachrisson, N eusprachhche Studien, p 142, and Sf Dial , §277 

8 See also Jordan, §§104, 108, and Horn, §138, Anm i 

9 Bullokar, p 94 Greene’s rhyme occurs m Fr%ar Baeon and Friar Bungay, end 
of sc 14 (Brooke-Paradise, p 94) 



to explain it as a sense development of shore (see sewer, sb i, and shore, 
sb 4) Sowre (sure) M 2 i 56 mav be a parallel case, but I prefer to 
explain it as a misprint of sewre, a more likely variant of sure Theobald’s 
conjecture that morall MND 5 i 2og stands for mure all {mure is used m 
2H4 4 4119) seems preferable to the usual emendation mural, but the 
MND spelling has probably no phonological value Lord assured is too 
doubtful a rhyme to be used as an example of the lowering of [Ju j] to 

I in Sit 

Shakespeare’s vowel for ME I m sit, wish was the same as today, that 
is, [i] Its open quality is indirectly confirmed by the not infrequent 
lowering of i to e, still a characteristic of cockney and several other dialects 
and formerly of even wider cunency,^ thus we find arethmaticke Cy 
24142, bedied RL 975, cestern AC 2595 errevocahle 2H6 23 (Q), 
jenghng TNK 3 2 14, satencall H 2 2 198 (Q2), semitars TA 4 2 91, tell 
H 2 2 572 (Q2) , vtndecaHve TC 4 5 107, well H 5 3 232 (Q2) Chevalne 
2H4 2 3 20 and lemrd TC 5 i 67, however, go back to OF forms with e, 
heps TmA 4 3 422 is the normal variant of hips, both shortened from ME 
hepe < OE he ope , spet MV i 3 113, 132 and speat P 3 i 8 represent the 
vb spet, not spit (OED) , while setting AW 1 i 129 is not a pun on sitting 
as suggested in the CaEd but shows the common confusion of set and sit 
Hither, thither, and whither are frequently spelled with e, eg, AYL 
I 2 173, MWW 4 4 45, L 2 4 299, and are linked in rhyme with (n) either, 
leather, together, weather , Bullokar (1585) appears to have had only % 
in these three words, but Le Maistre d'escole anglois (1580) has thether. 
Gill (1621) hether and hither, and Butler (1634) hether, thether, whether 
(plus compounds with these) Shakespeare may have used [^] in all the 
above words, at least as a variant of [i], and perhaps also in mirror, 
rhyming once with error (P) ^ For hent see p 86, above 

The word spirit shows a greater variety of pronunciations Unless it is 
merely traditional, the rhyme spirit merit points to [?] in spirit, still 
heard in many dialects , ^ in Spenser spirit rhymes with merit, inherit, in 
Marlowe with inherit, and throughout the 17th century with merit, in- 
herit But in Shakespeare’s verse spirit is very often monosyllabic, e g , 

1 See Sf Dial , §272 ff , Jordan, §271 

2 OED records e in mirror from the 14th century on, and Ben Jonson rhymes 
merror terror in Private Entertainment” (1604), 11 12-14 

3 See EDGr, Index, and Sf Dial , §277 Hodges (1644) e in spirit {ed) and 



H I I 138, MV 2 2 196, S 748, VA 882, and spintud is disyllabic 1H6 
3 I 50, while the variant sprite or spnght rhymes with delight, fight, light, 
sight, sleight, spite, write , particularly important is quite spirit (F, but 
sprite Q), because it reveals that the spelling spirit could actually be read 
sprite Yet it is not necessary to assume that every case of monosyllabic 
spirit was pronounced [sprait] The OF doublet esprit developed not only 
into ME sprit (> NE sprite) but also, with retention of the short vowel, 
into eNE sprit {te), spret{te), which were current from the iSth to the 
1 8th century (see sprite, sprit, OED) similarly spiritual had a syn- 
copated variant spntual during the same period (OED), which Henslowe 
writes sprytrall and spirtuall Even forms with [1 ] existed in the 15th 
and i6th centuries as evidenced by the spellings spiete 5-6, spreet{e) 6 
(OED) , this [1 ] may be a direct adoption of the Fr vowel ® It is there- 
fore safe to say that monosyllabic spirit in Shakespeare was pronounced 
either [spioit] or [sprit], perhaps even [sprit] 

When Shakespeare rhymed give with believe, relieve, and sleeve he may 
simply have followed a long established practice, reflected, e g , in Skel- 
ton’s give sleeve preve, Surrey’s give believe,^ and Spenser’s give 
achieve preve live Nevertheless we cannot disregard the possibility that 
in addition to [giv] he also used [gi v] , a pronunciation occurring in Hart 
(1570), Bullokar (1585), and Gill (1621) and still current as [gi ] in 
many dialects, including Wa (EDD) Against these three rhymes there 
are 23 instances of (for) give live, which certainly point to [i] in give and 
live, in spite of the fact that live itself rhymes twice with achieve, twice with 
thrive and once each with contrive and alive These six rhymes, too, should 
probably be regarded as traditional, foi in Spenser we have, e g , give 
preve live, live give drive thrive, and achieve (spelled -ive, -yve) 
alive, arrive, deprive^ Yet live might have been pronounced [hv], a 
variant used by Hart (1570), who also had [1 ] m aspire, derive, devise,^ 

4 In the 17th century Benlowes rhymed appetite spirit, thereby revealing that he 
also pronounced appetite with [i] , cf the iSth century spelling appetit (OED) and 
the Frenchified pronunciation appety mentioned disapprovingly by Jones (1701) 

5 Sprete is first recorded from c 1400 (OED), a noteworthy spelling of Fr [1 ] 
It IS used in Gammer GurtoWs Needle m the rhjrmes streife (street) sprite 1 2 25-6, 
meete spreete 2 1 79-82, and perhaps also m spitte sprete 3 3 39-40 j with which 
compare mete him speet hym 5 2 180-1 

6 Spelled geve heleve {TotteVs Miscellany, p 12) like geve releve (ibid, p 
142, anonymous) 

7 Not listed m EDGr, Index, however For this lengthening see Jordan, §36 Note 
also akin g'yn TNK pr 1-2 

8 See Rime, §§86, 88, 94, 216 

9 Jespersen (Hart, p 28) is probably right m regarding these as Latinized pro- 



while achieve appears to have had an early doublet with z ^ as for con- 
tnve, It IS one of those unexplained cases of eNE [91] < ME e and very 
likely, therefore, had an archaic doublet with [1 ] Though there is some 
evidence for [1 ] and [i] m words like drive, strive,^ and consequently for 
the same (dialectal) pronunciation of alive, strive, the most plausible 
explanation of these disturbing rhymes seems to be that they represent 
survivals from a time when it was still possible to link i and ^ as [i] and 
[1 ] The Duke of Longueville’s name occurs three times in rhyme m 
LLL, twice with words having ME I (compile, mile) and once with ill , 
the spelling of the name is adjusted to that of the respective rhyme word, 
so that we find both -vile and -vill The first two may be forced rhymes, 
with -vile pronounced so as to agree with compile, mile , or there existed 
perhaps in Shakespeare’s time a popular or colloquial pronunciation of the 
name according to the spelling Longavile, which was then used in these 

From the rhyme hypocrite sight it appears that the final syllable of 
hypocrite could be pronounced [oit], but since the rhyme occurs in the 
first act of P, which is usually considered not to be by Shakespeare, little 
notice need be taken of it here More important is the pronunciation of 
hymn, which if I am not mistaken forms a triple rhyme with tomb dumb 
5 3 this form [hju m] see p 21 1, above And from grim 

lym we learn that lyam was pronounced [lim] ® The rhymes build field, 
shield, yield are explainable in several ways, the simplest being that they 
are traditional, ^ however, they may just as well be exact, in which case 
either build was pronounced with [1 ] or field, shield, yield with [i] , the 
latter alternative seems the more likely one, since at least today [1 ] m 
build IS almost exclusively northern,® whereas [i] m field and yield is a 
charactenstic of Midland and southeastern dialects ® 

1 See OED and Zachnsson, English Vowels p 71 

2 See Sf Dial , §284, and EDGr, Index, where drive is recorded with [1 ] from G 1 
For the modern vowel in contrive see Jordan, §225, Anm i 

3 The F has Hym, a spelling that Tucker Brooke (Yale edition, p 173) retains, 
on very weak grounds, it seems , a spelling ham or lyem might easily have been mis- 
read as Hym Note that Webster spells the word Leon {The White Devil 1 283), a 
variant that is perhaps intended m 1H4 3 1 153 (Q), where the F has Lyon, but see 
pp 221 f , below 

4 Spenser rhymes build not only with field, killed and skilled but also with child 
and exiVd (see p 218, below) 

5 It IS also reported from So (EDGr, Index) Gill (1621), who hailed from 
Lmcolnshire, had [1 ], [i], and the reflexes of ME I and iu on hmld, note that Ellis 
and Wright record a diphthong, approximately [lu], in build from southern Lin- 

6 See EDGr, Index, and the discussion on p 192, above 


Costard’s misunderstanding of enigma LLL 3 i 73 (see p 87, above), 
which he apparently is supposed to hear as an-egma (association with egg ) , 
may imply that Armado used [g] instead of [i] in enigma or rather that 
in the speech of a man like Costard egg was [ig] as it is now m Y, Sx, So, 
and D , if so, his malapropism egnva is an attempt to speak correctly for 
the benefit of the audience who would have caught this absurdity more 
readily than if he had used igma As I have shown elsewhere,^ Mrs 
Quickly’s pronunciation of Pistol as Peesel involves a pun on pizde, 
pissely which had a doublet with ee, that is, [1 ] (OED) Wheeson 2H4 
2 I 97 (Q , Whitson F) may be another of Mrs Quickly ’s speech peculian- 
ties, only rarely indicated in the text, like deep C 45 114 for dip and 
spleet H 3 2 12 (Q2), spleets AC 2 7 129 for split(s)y it could indicate a 
lengthening of ^ to [1 ] , which is still characteristic of the dialects of So and 
D in monosyllabic words ® and which was perhaps more widespread m 
Elizabethan times Alternatively we have here four inverted spellings, 
perhaps from Shakespeare’s pen, revealing the pronunciation of ee as 
[1 ] But deefe H i 4 70 (Q2), creeple H5 4 pr 20, peepe TS i 2 33, seelie 
RL 1345, 1812, and weeke H 47116 (Q2) — cf the pun week-zmck, 
above — ^go back to early forms with e Compleases (complices) 2H6 
5 I 212 (Q) IS probably an ^a-spelling of e for the unstressed i Meanes 
MM 2 4 48 IS a more interesting case In my opinion it stands for ments < 
mints with loss of mterconsonantal t as in presents (see p 302, below) 
Similarly deape (clip) 2H6 416 has ea for ^ ^ 

If there is a jingle involving bussing and business as tentatively sug- 
gested above, this would imply the use of [a] in business, which may 
have had some currency in eNE ^ I find it hard to believe, however, that 
Shakespeare did not pronounce busy and business with [i] The colloquial 
form of mlt with rounding oiito u and loss of I appears as woo^t (5^) 
H 5 I 297-8 (F, Q2), AC 42 7, 4 15 59 and as wot (4x) 2H4 2 i 63 
(Mrs Quickly) , the pronunciation was probably [wut], perhaps also 
[wAt] , surviving as dialectal woot, oot, wut, ut (EDD) The same round- 
ing effect of w is seen in Woncot (Wilnecote) 2H4 5 i 42 ^ 

7 See p 135, above, and my article “Punning Names in Shakespeare,” pp 241 f 

8 EDGr, §68 Note further the spelling Whesen in a 17th-century document from 
Rutland (OED) Spleet, which OED assumes to be “obscurely related to split, is 
probably nothing but a lengthened variant of that vb 

9 Spelled menet 4-5 (OED), the normal southeastern development of OE mynet 

1 See Bullokar, p 99 

2 For this name see PN Wa, p 27 William Cartwright rhymes hull will 



% in hnej o% m loin 

At the end of the i6th century the diphthongization of ME I m nde, 
line, etc, which had begun simultaneously with the raising of ME 
[i ], that IS, about 1400, had reached a stage not far removed from 
the present [ai] The first element of the diphthong was probably the 
centralized vowel [a] as in cut or a closely related sound, either the short 
equivalent of [3 ] in bird or the obscure [o] in the second syllable of better, 
because of its conveniently neutral character, [0] will be used here to 
render the first element of Shakespeare’s diphthong for ME % that is, 
[91] Both Wallis (1653) and Wilkins (1668) agree that the first ele- 
ment of the diphthong is [a] or a closely allied sound, which can also be 
deduced from Wodroephe’s transcriptions pyee, py-ee for Fr pays, his y, 
which I interpiet as [91], is as near a substitute for Fr [sj] as he could 
get at that time ® Like Barnouw I am convinced that the Dutch transcrip- 
tions of English surnames like Weyt (White), Leyl (Lisle), etc, are 
attempts to render the diphthong [ai], and that the identifications of Eng- 
lish i with ‘^de hoochduitischen ei'* in the anonymous Dutch grammar of 
1568 must be interpreted in the same way ^ 

3 Had Wodroephe used [ai] for I, there would have been no need for him to render 
Fr atlleurs, entr allies, tatlleur with aa-ee 

4 Barnouw, §27 Some early orthoepists like Hart (1570) and Bellot (1580) also 
render the English diphthong by et, a digraph that may mean either [ei] or [91] 
In evaluating their evidence we must remember that these writers had hardly any 
other means of representing a diphthong with [a] as its first element than et , they 
may have been no better analysts than Ray (1674), who expressed his bewilderment 
m these words “What is the Prepositive Letter in this Diphthong is doubtful , one 
that did not curiously observe it, would think it to be e, but the Bishop of Chester 
[1 e , John Wilkins] will have it to be u, as pronounced in us'* (Sf Dial , p 149, n 2) 
The course of development from ME ? to modern [ai] was certainly not the one sug- 
gested by Wyld (p 223), which pays no heed to the diphthonging tendencies m 
modern English The first stage was not the addition of a slack [i] after the [1 ] 
but the introduction of a glide [i] before it resulting in the rising diphthong [11 ] , 
with the gradual lowering of this glide to [9] and the change of the rising diphthong 
to a falling one, the whole development would be approximately this [1 >11 > 9i 
> 91 > AI > ai] , see 5*/ Dial p 149 Dialects that have [§i] for ^ today could never 
have had the intervening stage [ai] but went from [11 ] > [ei] > [?i] , see Orton, 
§352 Perhaps it is this diphthong [ei], which seems to be characteristic of St 
(EDGr) , rather than the Indian influence suggested in OED which would explain 
the once fashionable pronunciation of china as chancy, the pi enunciation followed 
the product from the factories in St into the households of England The Clown in 
Respubhea (i5S3), who puns on respubhea and nce-puddingcake, may have used 
[?i] or [91] in rice, and he mistook its final [k§ ] for cake [k$ k] 



The same diphthong [91] was used for 01 in a number of words, to 
judge by a few rhymes and puns , in other cases [di] or [oi] was the nor- 
mal diphthong Some of the 01 t rhymes listed in the Rhyme Index are 
doubtful, since they occur m otherwise unrhymed passages, but the fol- 
lowing seem safe instances die joy annoy exploit right y voice ene-^ 
mieSy mutinieSy joys miseries, price,^ and probably also joy eye, majesty , 
note further hoy employ (spelled imply), whereas boy die, boys eyes 
and poise advice are uncertain The evidence of the puns bile-boil, fine- 
join, line— loin, vice-voice leaves no room for doubt concerning the levehng 
of 01 and i, nor does the inverted spelling smoile (smile) L 2 2 88 (smoyle 
Q), whereas byle (boil, n ) L 2 4 226, etc , the rhyme groin swine, and 
the spelling viage H 3 3 24 (Q2) reflect original ME i, with the above 
rhyme boy imply we may compare imply 2H4 4 2 24 (Q , employ F) and 
the homonyms imply-employ in Hodges (1643), Cooper (1685), and 
others The etymology of aroynt L 3 4 129, M i 3 6, spelled arint L 3 4 129 
(Q), is unknown The remarkable rhyme z/otcg, which fully agrees 
with Butler’s (1634) and Hodges’ homonyms juice-joice (joist < OF 
giste), reveals that juice was pronounced with [91], probably developed 
from ME i < OF We may therefore assume that the rhymes voice 
choice, noise, rejoice point to [91] in the last three words as well ® That 
on the other hand [di] or [oi] was also heard for ME 01 appears from the 
rhyme destroy pardonne moy, in which we have a survival of the 
older Fr pronounciation of 01 as [01] recommended by Palsgrave as late as 
1530,^ very likely, consequently, words like destroy, employ, and joy 
were pronounced with both [91] and [oi] Most 2H4 4 5 140 (F), which 
appears as moist in Q, undoubtedly the correct form, must be a misprint ^ 
Quaite 2H4 2 4 206 (Q) is a variant of the etymologically obscure quoit 
(F, see OED), and quill 2H6 134 seems to have developed like quiver 

5 Annoy had a variant with ME i, cf Jordan, §236, and Bullokar, p 103 

6 Similar rhymes occur in Spenser, though none with voice, choice, i otse, poise, 
joy, employ {Rime, §§91, 220) 

7 See Mather Flint, p 116 and n i, Bullokar, p 103 That hoy could have had 
[ai] by the side of [di] is quite possible, considermg such modern dialectal forms as 
[bwAi] and [bwDi] (EDGr, Index) 

8 See Bullokar, p loi, Jordan, §§239, Anm, 230, Anm i , and the discussion on 
p 211, above 

9 In Sf I have heard [ai] in choice, noise {Sf Dial , Glossary and §327) If Dar- 
nell's transciiption of 1831 is correct, Mrs Basire (1654) wrote regis for rejoice 
(Wyld, p 224) 

1 Nyrop, j, §157 

2 This can hardly be an instance of the mainly northern monophthongization of 
01 to 0, for which see Jordan, §238, Zachrisson, Neusprachhche Studien, pp 141-50, 
and Sf Dial , §328 



(Jordan, §239), while quire H8 4 i 64, etc , < ME quere is the regular 
orthographic variant of choir ® 

Numerous rhymes and some spellings testify to the complete leveling of 
ME ih{t) and % in Shakespeare's pronunciation These are the rhymes 
bright spite , write, flight delight (<ME delit) , knight delight, spite , 
light bite, convertite, delight, sprite (spelled spright), white (3x) , 
lighter voriter (spelled wrighter) , lighteth smiteth , might appetite, de- 
light, spite (spelled spight), strike, write , night delight (lox), despite 
(spelled despight, 2 x), quite (spelled quight), spite (3X, twice spelled 
spight) , sprite (3X, once spelled spright), white (sx) , right appetite, in- 
cite, despite (spelled despight), spite (2x, spelled spight), white (2x) , 
sight delight (Sx), hypocrite, quite, spite, sprite, white (2x) , sleights 
sprites (spelled spiights) , for the relevant rhymes with high, nigh, sigh 
{ed, -s), thigh(s) see Rhyme Index The following spellings occur hie 
(high) TC 2 2 113, lyte (light) TC 128, bight (bite) AYL, 2 7 185, re- 
quight TNK 5 4 36, spight (spite) R J i i 85, and some of the rhyme words 
above There are also the puns hie-high and white-wight Since the palatal 
fricative [9] had ceased to be pronounced over the whole southern area by 
the beginning of the isth century (Jordan, §295), its retention by some 
early orthoepists must be either dialectal (eg, Hart) or archaic-pedantic 
(Gill, Butler) " 

Other noteworthy rhymes are wind (n ) behind, find, etc (see Rhyme 
Index), Inde Rosahnde winde, etc, child spilled, unlived deprived 
derived, and unlikely quickly Wind (n ) obviously had [ai],® whereas 
Orlando's rhyming effort Inde Rosahnde, etc , and Touchstone's clever 
echo of It hinde Rosahnde, etc (the F spelling shows the pronunciation 
intended), should be regarded as instances of humorous poetic license, 
with [ai] in Ind, Rosalind because of the other words m -ind ® Child 
spilled IS a more difficult case I cannot imagine that Lady Capulet was 
made to use a dialectal form of child with [i] or [1 ] nor do I believe 
that a form [tjild], on the analogy of children, was then current in Lon- 
don English , perhaps the rhyme is traditional, merely taken over from 
Spenser, who rhymes child build exil'd ® The pronunciation of unlived 

3 Note also quirmter (chorister) H8 4 1 SD < ME querestre , according to OED 
the older pronunciation [‘kwiristaj] may still occasionally be heard 

4. Bullokar^s erratic use of gh is probably a carry-over from the traditional orthog- 
raphy {Bullokar, p 17) 

5 hyly puns on wmd-mnd in Mtdas 4 3 69 

6 But note that Spenser (Rime, §88) has Ind behind, bind, etc 

7 These vowels are reported from Co, D, So (EDGr, §73) 

8 Gabnelson (Rime, §88) suggests that build might have had I here, but could 
not Spenser^s rhyme, too, have been traditional ? Skelton, e g , rhymes child mild 



apparently followed the pattern of longhved In unlikely quickly we wit- 
ness the survival of i in unlikely, developed through the shortening of I 
before the two consonants and evidenced m such early spellings as lickli 4, 
hkly 4-6 (OED) ® For the rhymes alive live thrive, contrive live, and 
Longavile compile, mile see pp 213 f , above 

Shakespeare’s rhymes, moreover, indicate that such final syllables as 
-ite, -ive, and -me when metrically stressed had either [01] or [i], the 
latter perhaps even prolonged to [1 ] in -me Thus we find [oi] in appetite, 
rhyming with delight, might, right, white , in convertite, rhyming with 
light, and in hypocrite rhyming with sight, whereas [i] appears to have 
been used in parasites and Muscovites, both rhyming with wits ^ With 
lives (n ) restoratives (from P and consequently of less interest here) we 
should compare Donne’s live:^ (n ) preservatives and H King’s lives 
prerogatives ^ The pronunciation of -me may be inferred from argentine 
dream, concubine queen, libertine sin, porpentine ring ® (cf the spell- 
ing porpentm TC 2 i 27, Q), and Valentine betime, mine, crystalline 
confine mine , in Valentine and crystalline [91] was used, in the other 
words [i] or [1 ], but this distribution may have been purely accidental 

Double pi enunciations [91] and [1 ] (of variable quantity in all likeli- 
hood) were used for the substantival ending -y and the adverbial ending 
-ly, as may be seen from rhymes like eye chastity silently, me be amity 

shield exiled It seems as if Shakespeare’s rhyme had inspired Dryden’s child dis- 
tilled and Chapman’s child instilVd 

p Victor’s explanation of this rhyme (§19) reveals in one short paragraph the in- 
adequacy of his method and the unreliability of his results in general It is certainly 
no better than Furnivall’s comment of 1877 “Poets still allow themselves [to 
rhyme] long and short vowels” (VarEd , p 93) Note that the same rhyme occurs in 
Roister Doister 24.31--2, and that Peele rhymes beleek seek {The Arraignment of 
Parts 3 4 1-2) 

1 Jones (1701) marks the i in parasite as short 

2 Noah Webster disapproved of the New England practice of pronouncing -tve 
with [ai] , these are his words (quoted from Krapp, 2, 254) “In the eastern states 
there is a practice prevailing among the body of the people, of prolonging the sound 
of i in the termination ive In such words as motive, relative, etc the people, excepting 
the more polished sort, give i its first sound (1 e [ai] ) This is a local practice, op- 
posed to the general pronunciation of English on both sides of the Atlantic ” This 
practice had probably been quite widespread in England during the 17th century, 
but whether as a result of precept (spelling exercises) or imitation of speakers given 
to spelling-pronunciation cannot now be determined In Sf one may still hear native 
as a noun meaning ‘birth-place’ pronounced [nf taiv] , see Sf Dial , Glossary 

3 This rhyme (CE 5 1 275-6) is somewhat uncertain, but note that in the same 
scene (11 221-2) there is the further possibility of a rhyme chain Porpentine , if so, 
chain was pronounced with [1 ], still a dialectal form (see, eg, Sf Dial , §325, and 
EDGr, Index) 



solemnly triumphantly prosperity he jollity This is the commonest 
type of rhyme in Shakespeare, and innumerable examples will be found 
in the Rhyme Index under such head woi ds as hy, die, eye, fly, I, he and 
be, he, me, see, she, thee Victor’s categorical statement (§io) that there 
are no rhymes in stressed [i ] and -ly in Shakespeare is quite misleading 
m view of the fact that we find see mannerly be MV 2 9 99-101, one 
of at least a dozen such rhymes in his plays , the other type, between [91] 
and -ly, is, however, moie frequent That [bi] for 4 y was curient usage 
and not merely a literary convention is clear, eg, from Hart’s (1570), 
Mason’s (1602), and Gill’s (1621) transcriptions,^ and above aU from the 
sporadic survival of the diphthong in modern dialects , ® these circum- 
stances would make a pun like Qmckly-lie almost unavoidable, once that 
name had been bestowed on the Hostess (the process of naming and pun- 
ning may, of course, have been simultaneous) It seems less likely, how- 
ever, that nouns ending m -y, e g , cruelty, flattery, were commonly pro- 
nounced with final [91] , Gill fiequently indicates a diphthong m such 
words, but he was a pedant who despised the colloquial usage of the day 
and appears to have been pleased to find that [91] in misery, constancy, 
destiny had, as he believed, spread from poetry into prose, where conse- 
quently [91] and [i] could be heard « It is evident that the former was an 
archaic mode of pronunciation, kept alive through the precepts of Gill and 
orthoepists of the same conservative attitude 

There remain the rhymes fly he, me, perdie and eye knee The con- 
fusion between flee and fly, which goes back to OE, accounts foi the 
former rhymes, while the latter, from a ballad, employs the northern form 
[1 ] of eye Considering the regular linking of die with words having ME 
I, I hesitate to accept as genuine rhymes die me (2x, identical lines) and 
die thee (3x) , die me and die three occur m A Handful of Pleasant 
Delights (1584), a collection of poems with which Shakespeare was fa- 
miliar, and similar rhymes are frequent in popular ballads The mainly 
northern pronunciation [di ] is reported as far south as Le and Db 

The meter requires sherife 2H4 4 4 99 to be monosyllabic in accordance 

4 Hart has it in boldly, certainly, commonly, namely, truly, verily, wholly, etc 
(p 90), Mason in proudly, evidently, wisely, etc (p ii), and Gill in daily, deadly, 
dishonestly, disloyally, divinely, earnestly, earthly, etc (pp 173, 175, 177) In the 
first quarter of the 17th century Robert Robinson used a diphthong in presently 
specially, sufficiently (Dobson, pp 51 f ) 

5 Forby (1830) mentions this as an East Anglian characteristic (p 105), and I 

have heard [loi] in surely (Sf Dial, §284) Orton, §199? reports the same pronuncia- 
tion from Byers Green m accordingly, really ^ 

6 Logonomia Anglica, p 134 , see also Brown, pp 43-5 



With the corresponding Q form shneve The pun ktn-kme is based on a 
dialectal pronunciation of ktne with [i ] or [i[ < southeastern ME e < 
OE y, such a form would then have been familiar to every Londoner 
Wisedome R3 i 4 100 may be merely a traditional spelling, but it is sig- 
nificant that Hart (1570) pronounced the word with ei, that is, [91] ^ 
Gretse TNK 2 i 34, spelled gnze TmA 4 3 16, TN 3 i 135, represents OF 
greB, greys, pi of gre (see grece, OED) In The Contention (2H6 47) 
we come across an interesting case of populai etymology, viz , outtalian for 
'Italian,’ ® a form that has escaped the editors of OED , they record one 
instance of oufahan, with the meaning 'foreign, foreigner,’ from New- 
castle and Dryden’s play Sir Martin Mai -all (41) Their interpretation 
seems farfetched, and even more so the suggested etymology from out 
and alien The context clearly warrants the same interpretation here as 
in the earlier instance, 'Italian ’ ^ This may actually have inspired the 
use of the word in the later play, but it is equally possible that Oiit(t)alian 
was a current vulgaiism, a folk-et)rmological corruption of Italian, per- 
haps originally pronounced with initial [91] as often in uneducated speech 
today, a confusion of [ 9 it-] and [ 9 ut] seems plausible enough 

Shortening of the vowel has taken place in Limehouse (with a pun on 
limbs) , which must have had the same pronunciation as exists locally today, 
[‘lim9s] In an unstressed position the vowel was likewise shortened to 
[i] as in bohns (bowlines) P 3 i 43, huswife Hs 5 i 85, spelled huswye 
(Q), S 143 I, etc , and trisyllabic huswiferie O 21 113, probably also in 
the contracted variant sennight AYL 3 2 333, semghts O 2 i 77, etc Mrs 
Quickly’s malapropisms hony-suckle, hony-seed (2x), and hemp seed 
MWW 2 I 54-64 for homicidal and homicide reveal the use of [1 ] or 
[i] for modern [ai], likewise indicated by Hoccleve’s spelling homysede 
1421 (OED) The transformation of ensign to ancient as m rH4 4 2 26, 
etc , presupposes the use of [i] in the second svllable of ensign, substitu- 
tion of [nj] for [ns] and the addition of t (see pp 301 and 319) 

As suggested above (p 214), the Q spelling Leon 1H4 3 i 153, for 
which F has Lyon, may stand for lyam 'bloodhound,’ a word that would 
heighten the effect of the mock-heraldic line , ^ lyam occurs in heraldry 

7 See Jespersen, Hart, p 91 

8 This IS the passage ^‘Say Nothing, but Bonaterra — Cade Bomim-terrum, 
zounds what’s that ^ — Dicke He speakes French — Will No tis Dutch — Ntcke No 
tis outtalian I know it well inough ** 

9 This is the quotation given in OED “Or else they are no Englishmen, but some 
of your French Outalian rogues I’ll keep my daughter at home this afternoon 
and a fig for all these Outalians ” 

I 'A chp-wmg’d Gnfiin, and a moulten Raven, / A couchmg Lyon, and a rampmg 



(OED) If SO, the editors of F probably misunderstood the Q spelling 

It IS doubtful whether mne 1H4 3 i 156 is to be read as a disyllable as 
suggested by Kittredge (p 573) A disyllabic form of mne is reported 
from Wo and Sf (EDGr), though I was unable to come across it in the 
latter county By reading at the leasts used elsewhere m Shakespeare as a 
variant of at leasts we need not resort to this dubious phonological ex- 

1 he glide that had long ago developed between i and r in such words as 
fire, desire could be pronounced or omitted according to metrical needs 
Thus fire is both disyllabic and monosyllabic inJC3ii7i, iron is mono- 
syllabic in C I 5 7, J 4 I 39, but disyllabic m J 4 i i, TNK 268, hire 
(spelled higher) C 2 3 121 is monosyllabic, and so is hyr'd R3 i 4 233, 
but tired VA 177 is disyllabic and desire MV i 3 60 is trisyllabic And 
so on 

The spellings umper 1H6 4 i 151 and umpeere RJ 4 i 63 represent 
variants of umpire (< OF noumpere) , the second syllable may have had 
both [oj[] and [i j] 

o in god 

This vowel, today [d], has probably undergone no material change 
since ME times Early orthoepists like Smith ( 1 568) , Hart ( 1 570) , Bullo- 
kar (1585), and Gill (1621) used a sound of approximately that quality, 
which the foreign observers Erondelle (1605) and Florio (1611) identi- 
fied with Fr and It 0 indeed, by frowning on the dialectal use of a for 
0 in skaters for scholars, Gill (p 33) revealed the existence of an un- 
rounded variant of 6, which had probably infiltrated, more or less, the 
speech of many Londoners ® Other grammarians like Bellot (1580), fol- 
lowed by Alphabet Anglois (1625), and Festeau (1693) stressed the 
similarity of English 0 to Fr a, the traditional comparison throughout 
the 1 8th century,^ nevertheless Bellot coupled clock and cloak as being 
pronounced almost alike ® Mason (1622), who usually transcribes 6 with 
0, has a few instances with a, viz , cantent, an, marrow, aff ® Dames ( 1640) , 
probably a Suffolk man, Hodges (1644), a Londoner, and Wallis (1653), 
born in Kent, all appear to have used 0, which Wallis describes as a sound 
intermediate between G 0 and a (Lehnert, §99) Since modern [d] in 

2 See Zachnsson, English Vowels, pp 134 ff 

3 See also my article ^‘Alexander Gill,” p 285 

4 See, e g , Mather Flint, pp loi f 

5 Le Matsire d^escole anglois, p 37, and Zachnsson, English Vowels, p 15 

6 Grammatre anglotse, p xxxi 



god IS actually much closer to Fr a in pate than to Fr 0 in comme, we may 
safely conclude from these seemingly contradictory analyses that at that 
time,*as now, 0 was a rounded, fully open back vowel It is, therefore, im- 
possible to accept Luick's theory (§§533 ff , 557 f ) that ME 0 was un- 
rounded to a everywhere in the i6th century (perhaps even in the 15th) 
and then rounded again to [o] in the latter part of the i8th century — ^his 
treatment of ME <5 is a striking example of his method of manipulating 
the evidence to suit an unrealistic theory To be sure, the monotonous 
equation of English 0 and Fr a during the i8th century need not be alto- 
gether traditional Some of the orthoepists may well have used or heard 
the unrounded variant reported by Gill in 1621, a vowel which survives 
today as dialectal [a] and [a] and has become the standard American 
sound But this was certainly not the only descendant of ME 6 in eNE, as 
the modern dialects clearly show, [d] being in fact the most widespread 
of the variants recorded The inadequacy of Luick's theory becomes 
even more apparent when we find that in some dialects ME 0 has devel- 
oped into [o ], [u], and [us] (EDGr, §§82 f ) , it is difficult to see how 
these could ever have arisen from an eNE [a] or [a] Indeed, a multiple, 
regional development of ME 6 is the only postulate compatible with the 
available linguistic data For the history of the vowel in St E , however, 
only the unchanged [o] and the unrounded [a] (or [a]) are of real 
importance The latter, which seems to ha\e been a fashionable affectation 
for some time during the 17th century, never managed to oust [o] as the 
standard sound , it is now a characteristic of southwestern dialects,^ and 
of Wa" 

When Shakespeare first came to London he undoubtedly used this 
unrounded variant [a] or [a], but we shall never be able to ascertain 
whether he abandoned it in favor of [d] As an actor he may have adopted 
[d], willy-nilly, on the stage, but one would like to imagine that among 
intimate friends he now and then lapsed into the vernacular In this respect 
the evidence of his plays and poems is both scanty and ambiguous The 
Jingles hohday-holy day, potent— potting, stoicsstocks, and stone-astomsh 
decidedly favor [d] as the current sound for ME 0, as do the puns coat- 
cod, goat-Goth, on-one (for the quantity of the vowels involved see p 
233, below) Against these must be placed the jingles ah]ect-ohject,^ 
concealed-canceledj and trap-tropically (spelled trapically Q), which can 
be variously interpreted the stressed vowels may have had their present 

7 For a discussion of this unrounding see Wyld, pp 240 ff 

8 According to Collins [a] is the regular Wa vowel for ME d in independent 
positions, as in stop, but [a ] before the retroflex r as m storm 

9 The spelling object (abject) TC 3 3 (Q) is probably a misprint 



values, with the consonants solely responsible for the jmglmg effect, or 
the sounds may have been [se] foi ME d and [a] or [a] for ME d, or 
again, though less likely in my opinion, [a] may have been used in both, 
perhaps even [a] for ME d and [o] for ME 0 In Hamlet’s play on trap 
and tropically the latter word must have been deliberately pronounced 
with [a] at least, if not with [a] or [ae], to emphasize the pointed jest, 
as I see it, the Q spelling tropically was simply a reminder to the actor 
how to speak the word ^ 

Obviously these three jingles prove nothing with regard to a general 
unrounding of ME 0 > am London or, for that matter, in Shakespeare’s 
own speech They might have appeared in the plays of almost any Eliza- 
bethan dramatist given to punning, irrespective of whether or not he 
used them himself The important thing to remember is that, even allow- 
ing for some distoition of the vowels, the pronunciations on which these 
Jingles were based must have been familiar and recognizable variants in 
everyday speech Like the small group of rhymes now to be considered, 
they reveal how hospitable the early Standard was to variant forms of 
regional or class provenance 

The rhymes m question are the following Tom am, bob crab, hop 
pap, foppish apish, folly dally, follow hallow, and doffed craft Though 
they look alike, they cannot all be explained in precisely the same way 

Let us begin with Tom am L 2 3 20-1 It forms the final couplet of the 
soliloquy in which Edgar announces his intention of mimicking a Bedlam 
beggar, whose whine, “poore Turlygod, poore Tom,” is actually reproduced 
in the first line of the couplet , the rhyme is, therefore, probably meant 
to be dialectal, with [a] or possibly [se] in both words Pyramus-Bottom’s 
rhyme hop pap MND 5 i 303-4, too, gives the impression of being de- 
liberately dialectal to enhance the burlesque character of the would-be 
tragic lines , pap, pronounced [pap] in order to rhyme with hop [hap] or, 
alternatively, hop pronounced [haep] to rhyme with [psep], would be 
amusingly absurd here ^ The Fool’s song in L i 4 contains the rhyme 
foppish apish, which is much harder to explain phonologically If foppish 
could have been pronounced with [ae], the rhyme would have had a fine 

1 That IS, if Q IS a pirated version of a prompt copy , if it was derived from some 
kind of stenographic report, then traptcally must be what the pirate heard 

2 The So dialect, which is usually held to be the protot3rpe of the southern dialect 
used by Elizabethan stage clowns, has [se] and [a] for ME d and sporadically also 
for ME d, see Kruisinga, §§151, 153 I am inclined to believe that [ae] for ME 5 
IS a hypercorrect pronunciation due to the mfiuence of St E [ae] for ME d See also 
p 226, n I, below 



parallel m John Taylor’s snappish apish ^ with its linking of [se] and 
], but I know of no doublet fappish ^ which might be enlisted to explain 
the rhyme , perhaps its very inexactness is its sole raiso7i d'etre m the 
song, an explanation applicable to hop pap as well Since Spenser rhymes 
jolly jolly dally and the earliest Pepys ballads couple folly with alley, ^ 
Shakespeare’s folly dally may be purely traditional , yet it is worth noting 
that dally is dolly in Devon and Ireland (EDD) In follow hallow we 
have very likely to do with the common variant hollo {w),^ which appears 
as hollowed in LC 228 , cf Alhollown 1H4 i 2 172 Bob crab would have 
been a perfect rhyme m Wa , it may be more than a coincidence that it 
occurs in Puck’s speech in MND 2 i 42-58, which has, besides, the dia- 
lectal rhyme coffe Ioffe , EDGr records [lof ] for laugh from e Wa But 
such forms weie perhaps heard also in certain types of London speech 

In the case of doffed craft the evidence of the rhyme itself is supported 
not only by the spelling daft but by similar forms elsewhere in the text 
daft (doff It) AC 44 13, daft (doffed) 1H4 4 i 96, MA 2 3 176, daff'd 
PP 14 3, daffe MA 5 i 78, and dafts (doffest Q2) O 4 2 176, which should 
be compared with dan'd (donned) H 4 5 52 (Q) The precise value of a 
in doff(ed) depends upon what sound we are prepared to assign to a in 
craft and words of that category , it may have been [a ] or [a ] , rhyming 
with the same vowel as a variant of [se ] in c^aft (see p 168, above) 

There are a few other a-spellings which may likewise indicate some 
kind of [a] in the words concerned, viz , asprey C 4 7 34, asprayes TNK 

1 I 138, astndge 2H6 4 10 31 (Q) — ^also estndges 1H4 4 i 98 ® — clatpole 
L I 4 50 (Q), ortagriphie LLL 5 i 22, and Valtemand H i 2 34 (Q), 
whereas dan (Q) by the side of don (F) LLL 3 i 182 and quatha RJ 

2 4 124 represent early doublets with a (OED) , in carranto AW 2 3 49 
the first a is due to weak stress, and Dancaster 1H4 5 i 42 (Q), 58 (Q) 
is a common early spelling of the name Though trassell (throstle) MV 

3 J Taylor, Works not Included %n the Folio Edition of 1630, r, First Collection 
(Spenser Soc ), 20 

4 But note fap MWW 1 1 183, meaning *drunk, intoxicated,* which could be a 
phonetic and semantic variant of fop 

5 See Rime, §133, and The Pepys Ballads, i, 153, 192 

6 Butler (1634) equates ‘‘hollow cavus / to hallow sanchfico / to hollaw or whoop 
voce fictitia & sonora aliquem advocare” (pp 74 f) as pronounced alike, and sim- 
ilarly Hodges (1643) “When he was in the hollow, he began to whoop and hollaw'^ 
(p 5), and “To hallow or make holy A hollow place in the ground” (p 13) 

7 Vietor does not discuss this important rhyme but records it m his “Rime-Index ’* 

8 Mulcaster (1582) lists ostndge and estridge as variant forms (p 226) , the 
earliest ^-forms in OED date from the 15th century 



I 2 65 (F, Qq) may be a genuine case of ^ > a, influence from thrash, 
a variant of thrush, cannot be completely discounted ® Dr Cams’ frequent 
by gar MWW i 4 114, etc , reflects the variant Gad, as in Egad, Begad,"^ 
with the final d omitted as in Pr and the vowel somewhat lengthened, 
thus [ga ] or [ga ] , the r was probably not pronounced , see p 316, below 
This tendency toward sporadic unrounding is particularly noticeable 
before r as seen by the rhymes corn harm, George charge, short heart 
(3x), part (2x), shorter departure, and storms arms Though these 
may well be traditional — Spenser, eg, rhymes storm with arm, harm, 
alarjn — there are nevertheless good reasons for believing that they are 
exact The occurrence of [a r] for ME or in the modern Wa dialect ^ 
is significant only as an indication of what Shakespeare’s own sound 
must have been, it is, however, far from improbable that his Wa [a ] 
was at least partly responsible for the comparative frequency of his rhymes 
between ME dr and dr An even stronger inducement to such rhyming 
was doubtless the fact that in this case his own native usage coincided 
with that prevalent in certain regional or social types of London speech ® 
It may never be possible to determine how widespread this tendency to 
unround ME or once was in London itself, but there is considerable 
evidence to show that it was a feature of all the dialects in the immediate 
vicinity of London Thus we still find sporadic cases of [a ] for ME dr 
in K, Sx, Sr, Brk,^ while early place-name forms from Mx and E reveal 
that the tendency was not confined to the southern and southwestern 

9 For the result of such influence see OED throstle and thrush 

1 Modern [ae] in Egad is probably a spelling-pronunciation of an earlier, fashion- 
able [I'gad] or [I'gad] This is also true of, eg, gammer and gaffer ( < godmother, 
godfather), as rightly pointed out by Brunner, pp 256 f 

2 Cf p 223, n 8, above EDGr, which does not distinguish qualitatively between 
a m f other 2 xiA a m GMann, reports [a ] (written [a] in §87 but [a] in the Index) m 
corn, horn, storm, mormng, and corner (§§87, 217) but reduces the value of the 
evidence by not recording any r, which Ellis (p 116) on the other hand clearly marks 
as retroflex (with the preceding vowel short) Note also the Wa place-names 
Marraway ( < OE morgen-gtefu) and Arlescote ( < Ordlaf, cot), PN Wa, pp 224, 
274 The Jingle scar-scorn (p 82, above) may, but need not, imply the use of [a ] 
in scorn 

3 Hodges’ homonyms former-farmer tally mcely with modern Wa [fa rm] for 

4 In corn (K, Sx, Sr, Brk), (K, Sx), horn (Sx, Sr), mormng (K, Sx, Brk), 
short (K, Sx, Brk), storm (K, Sx, Sr), corner (K, Sx, Sr) This unrounded vowel 
IS further reported from D, Do, W, Wa, Wo, Gl, So, Ha — ^thus in the southwest 
and south— as well as from Bd, Le, O , traces of it appear even in Y, La, Nf, and Sf , 
see EDGr, §§87, 217, and Sf Dial, §292 It is also used regularly in Wt, see my PN 
Wt,p xcvii 



dialects but had actually penetrated beyond the Thames ® Occasional spell- 
ings in private documents confirm the assumption that London was an 
area of divided usage in this respect ® Of particular value are Henslowe's 
repeated efforts to spell the name of one of his hack writers, William 
Haughton The man himself signs his name Haughton (6x) and Hawton 
( ix) , while Henslowe spells it Haughton ( ix) , Hawghfon (22x) , Hauton 
(ix), Hawton (3x), Howghton (ix), Hamghton (ix), Horton (2x), 
and Harton (25X) In Henslowe’s speech, therefore, ME aw, dr, and ar 
had coalesced so completely that ar was felt by him to be the best repre- 
sentation of a vowel that was either [a ] or [a ] Whatever its precise 
quality, such a vowel, perhaps followed by a weakly articulated r (see p 
316, below), must have been a fairly usual pronunciation of ME dr in 
London at that time But the more common sound there was undeniably 
[d ] It IS evidenced by such rhymes as forsworn, horn {for)sworn, 
forlorn, overworn, horse force, remorse, short report, sport, etc , in which 
ME dr is linked with ME gr and dr ^ Even more important is the testimony 
of the puns abhor— whore (Abhorson), form-form, and horse-whores, 
which help to establish not only the quality but also the quantity of the 
Shakespearean sound for ME dr, that is, [0 ] , while at the same time ex- 
posing the fallacy of Luick's theory of a general unrounding of ME a > a 
in eNE 

In gosse (gorse) T 4 i 180 no lengthening of the vowel has taken place 
because of the early loss of r before s (see p 315, below) The spelling 
currall S 130 2 reflects the OF doublet coural by the side of coral , similar 
w-forms are listed in OED as current in the isth-iyth centuries 

It IS difficult to account satisfactorily for the rhymes cost boast, host 
(-{-lost 3x), crossed engrossed (-\-lost), frost boast (-\-lost), lost 

5 Thus Shoreditch Mx appears m a Fr document of 1704 as Chardesse, whereas 
Hornsey is an inverted modern spelling of Harnesey 1524, Herneseye 1576 {Hornsey 
first appears in 1564) , see PN Mx, pp 145, 121 Similarly Harseley 1546 corresponds 
to modern Horkesley, PN E, p 392 In Sr we find Dorking (obsolescent pronuncia- 
tion [dakii]]), spelled Darkyng 1538 and Derkyng 1431, Tharpe 1715 for Thorpe, 
and Dormans (1593 and modern form) Deremannesland 1263 with deremann'^ 
derman > darman though intermediate forms are lacking , PN Sr, pp 269, 134, 328 
In Sx we have Orfold, spelled Arfold 1823, which as PN Sx (p 134) says, “Shows 
the common Sussex [a ] for or,'* and Homey for Herney 1564 » PN Sx pp 134, 350 
But PN Sx xxviii) IS wrong in stating that ME o in Sx has been ‘unrounded to 
[se] m early ModEng'*, it was unrounded to [a], which is still heard in the dialect, 
whereas [se] in such place-names as Clapham, Flattenden must be due to the spelling 

6 Cf Bullokar, p 70 

7 Sworn may have had 0 like born, or g like borne, and similarly worn It is im- 
material for this discussion, however, whether the vowel of the loanwords force, 
remorse, report, sport was ^ or see Luick, §51 ii and Jordan, §§227, 228 



boast (3x), coast (2x), most (2x), composed (-{-cost, crossed, frost, 
tossed), moth oath, wroth A ME doublet of cost (< OF coster) with 
developed as in host, may be indicated by the spellings coste 4-6, 
cooste 5 (OED), but there appears to be no trace of it in modem southern 
dialects No such lengthening, however, is possible in frost, while the 
vowel in lost is itself the product of early shortening Gabrielson (Rime, 
§§128, 297), who cites a great many rhymes of this kind from Spenser, 
suggests instead eNE lengthening of 6 before st as the most plausible 
explanation That lengthening of 0 before [f, s, 0 ] had set in long before 
Shakespeare's time, perhaps even by the middle of the 15th century, is 
assumed by Wyld (p 257) on the strength of several early spellings ® 
Since the lengthening resulted in [o ], which normally did not coalesce 
with the eNE reflex of ME Q, at that time [o ] , it may indeed be ques- 
tioned whether any careful poet would ever have rhymed this [d ] with 
[o ] < ? , such a practice would have been tantamount to rhyming g and 
0 in ME, which is not done ^ The full phonetic agreement between the 
two rhyme words would have been possible only in a region where ME g 
had remained as [0 ] in eNE, that is, m certain southwestern dialects ^ in 
which lengthened ME 0 before [f, s, 6] has actually been leveled with ME 
g under [0 ] Perhaps the above rhymes ultimately stem from such a 
dialect Yet the assumption of a short vowel [d] in boast, host, etc , is an 
alternative explanation that seems even more attractive ^ Despite the 
phonological ambiguity of cost, I think that Chaucer's rhymes post cost 
(2x), cost lost imply absence of lengthening of the vowel in post as 
normally in cost^ Hodges (1643) gives host (hossed)-boast, cost--coast, 
and tost (tosstd) -toast as homonyms, which can hardly mean anything 
else than [d], a vowel recorded m post from D, northern dialects, and 
Scottish (EDGr, Index) Short forms of the above words — unlengthened 
or shortened as the case may be — ^were probably current when poets began 

8 Horn, §59, interprets Henslowe’s frequent spelling Fosfes for Faustus as indi- 
cating the newly lengthened vowel Such an interpretation is hardly justified in terms 
of Henslowe’s pronunciation He seems to have used himself [a ] or [a ] for ME au 
and the corresponding short vowel [a] or [a] for ME 0 , he therefore identified the 
eNE [0 ] in Faustus with his own [0 ] in gho 6 t, post and accordingly wrote it 0 

9 Chaucenan rhymes like home doom, to tho, etc (ten Brink, §32), imply ME 
doublets with 0 in home, tho, etc , see p 231, below 

1 EDGr, §§85 and 121-4, also Index 

2 For such shortening of ME g m modern dialects see EDGr, §122, and for the 
retention of the original short vowel <C ME d, §214 Other cases will be discussed on 
P below 

3 Cf the same vacillation between ME a and d before st in haste and vast, and 
between ME # and e in beast and jest (Jordan, §§224, 225) 



to rhyme cost boast, lost most, etc Rhymes of this type are very com- 
mon in the i6th century,^ an indication perhaps that they were already 
becoming conventional (eye rhymes) , this impression is strengthened 
somewhat by Levins’ practice of listing in Mampulus vocahulorum (1570) 
cost, frost among his ihyme words in oste like ghoste, hoste, poste , Ed- 
ward Phillips does the same in The Mysteries of Love & Eloquence 
(1658) ° Obviously no definite conclusion can be drawn regarding Shake- 
speare’s usage, but I lean toward the assumption that the above rhymes 
are traditional with him In the appended phonetic transcriptions (pp 
343 ff ) I shall therefore use [d ] for ME 6 before [f, s, 6], with the 
understanding that the vowel may have been [d] 

The numerous rhymes of the type long tongue, wrong young wiU be 
dealt with under ME u (see pp 243 ff , below) Spellings like bumbard 
T 2221, bmnbast 1H4 24359 (Q), LLL 52790, gundello (gondola) 
AYL4 I 27,^^^9t^'y^delierO i i 1 26 reflect early doublets with w (OED) , 
these words may therefore have been pronounced with [a] Dun for Don 
in Dun Adi amadw LLL 4 3 199 may be a deliberate, comic mispronuncia- 
tion by Costard 

0 m go, ow in know 

There is ample, conclusive evidence to show that even long before the 
Elizabethan period ME Q in go, boat and ou in know, grow had coalesced 
in the incipient Standaid language and that their common sound was a 
monophthong [o ] ® This quality is implied by the statements of the 
early French grammarians, who equate the English g/ ou with Fr 0 and 
au,’^ from Wodroephe’s (1623) transcriptions so-vear (sauveur), po- 

4 Thus lost rhymes with host, most, post m The Pepys Ballads, and in TotteVs 
Mtscellany with most, roast, boast, ghost, coast 

5 Under the heading oast Phillips lists boast, tngrost, %mhost, cost, crost, frost, 
host, lost, most, impost, tost, under os tmboss, loss, cross, dos, gross, gloss, tngross, 
moss, soss, toss, and under oth both, broth, cloth, doth, oath, froth, loth, moth, quoth, 
sloth, troth, wroth 

6 See, e g , Bullokar, pp 75 ff This leveling and monophthongization in early St E 
does not, of course, preclude the coexistence of other types of speech, in which ME 
Q and ou were kept apart, with ou remaining a diphthong down to the present day 
Traces of this parallel development are to be found in some of the early orthoepists, 
as pointed out by Zachrisson, %hid See also Sf Dial , §340, and S ' tiidia Neophilogica 7 
(1934/35), 125 

7 Bellot (1580) equates oe in doe, foe with Fr 0, Erondelle (1606) compares Fr 
au and English o, and Mason (1622) uses both 0 and au to transcribe ME Q and ou , 
see Zachrisson, English Vowels, pp i4if, and individual grammars On the other 
hand, Florio (1611) identifies English g with the long open It 0, probably because he 



peers (paupieres), epoles (epaules), gosh (gauche), sh% voshe (chevau- 
chez) , from the Anglicization of the 16th-century Fr loanwords debauch, 
hautboy as debosh, deboash (rhyming with approach), hoeboy, howboy, 
etc (OED, Shakespeare has debosh' d AW 23145, L 14263, etc, 
hoboyes AC 4 3 SD) , ® and also, I think, by such Shakespearean rhymes 
and puns as more, floor roar, Moor-more, whore-hoar 2yg, 


The leveling of ME q and ou is shown by the following rhymes in 
Shakespeare below joe, go (2x) , blow no, so (2x), woe (2x) , bow 
(n ) doe (2x), go, woe, crow go, so (4x) , flow go, woe (2x) , 
glow(s) goes those, woe, grow(s) Angelo, go (2x), rose, so (5x), 
those, woe (3x) , growth both, troth oath, know(s) foe (Sx), go 
(4x) , Gremio Hortensio, no (2x), nose, so (23X), woe (5x) , know 
it note , low no, woe (2x) , mow go so toe no , owe Dromto, Mer- 
cutio, go, so (2x) , own alone (3^), none, throne , show(s) foe (3x), 
go, no, rose, so (gx), suppose, woe (px) , shown none , shrew (s) go, 
o's, so, woe , slow go, no, so, woe , snow foe, go, so , soul control, hole, 
pole , sow go , strew so, throw(s) go (2x), rose , thrown one, trow 
go (2x) ® 

The phonological evidence of these rhymes is fully corroborated by 
the puns known-none, low-loathes, sew-so, sole-souled-sowl, holp-hope, 
poll-pole and by such spellings as browch (brooch) WT 4 4 610, blowt 
(bloat[ed] ) H 3 4 182 (Q2), how (ho) LLL 5 2 43, sowla LLL 4 i 151 
{sola MV 5 I 39), stoa (stow) TNK 2 3 32, troa (trow) H8 i i 184, 
MWW 14140,^ shone (shown) H 2276 (Q2) Before I and I plus 
consonant we occasionally find ou and ow as in bould (bold) MND 

1 I 59 (Q)» oould (cold) RL 177, S 944, ould MND 5 i 268 (Q), pould 
(polled) TNK 5 i 85, pouVd C 4 5 215, roule (roll) MND 3 2 369, toule 
(toll) AW 53149, towle H5 4pri5, fowling H 1139 (Q), troule 
T 3 2 126, rowhng H8 5 3 104, RL 368, controwle{r) TA i i 199 (Q), 

2 360 (Q), unrowle TA 23 35, but poll appears as pole AW 42 190, 
C 3 1 1345 3 3 10, H 4 5 196, and in pole-clipt (poll-clipped) ^ T 4 i 68 — 
cf Poleak (Polack) H 2263 {Poliak Q2), Polake H 52387, Pollax 
H I I 63, polla^^ (poleaxe) LLL 52 580 {polax Q), and condoll H5 

felt that the other It 0 was too close (when short it sounds almost like [u] ) , this may- 
be the reason why the It open 0 is substituted for Fr [o] m French loanwords in 
Italian, and why in reading Latin Italians use their open 0 for Lat close 0 (see further 
Rohlfs, §67) 

8 See my article “Five Shakespeare Notes,” pp 318 f 

9 Spenser rhymes m the same manner , see Rime, §73 f 

1 For throwes (throes) T 2 1 231, etc , and moe (mow) T 2 2 9 see OED 

2 Meamng ‘pollarded, pruned^ , see my article “Thy Pole-dipt Vineyard ” 



2 I 133 (Q) > and -oiled is sometimes spelled -old as m ext old TmA 
I I 167, vnscrold ® MV 2 7 72 (rhyming with gold told, etc ), told (tolled) 
MND 5 I 370, 02211,^ unrold WT 4 3 130 

In several Midland and eastern dialects ME g has become [u ] or by 
late shortening [u], a pronunciation actually reported by some 17th- 
century orthoepists in go, comb, ghost, post, most, roast ® Not a few rhymes 
in Spenser point to this variant [u ] for ME g {Rime, §§137, 141, 320), 
although they may be traditional with him, for even Chaucer rhymed to 
moe, go, woe, home doom, come (ten Brink, §32) Shakespeare may 
also have had [u ] sporadically, but the evidence is not entirely conclusive 
Nevertheless I am inclined to explain the pun Rome'-roam by postulating 
for roam a pronunciation [ru m] , which would agree with such early 
spellings as rowme 4-6, roume 5, roome 5, 7 (OED) and be the basis 
of the rhyme (Spenser, too, rhymes roam as well 

as roam womb) The same explanation would then apply also to home 
Rome, home come, and the possible pun woe-woo ® But in provoke took 
we may have to do with apt [to k], formed like modern woke on the 
analogy of verbs like break, speak (then pronounced with ] like take) , 
in fact, Bullokar (1585) gives this vowel in took and undertook Lose 
originally had ME g, its present [u ] being due partly to confusion with 
loose, partly to the above dialectal [u ] for ME ^ in lose, and this 
earlier vowel [o ] will fully explain the rhyme propose lose (cf Spen- 
ser's lose dispose, expose, rose, etc ) , Shakespeare doubtless said 
[lu z], for he puns on lose-loose, and he frequently spells the word loose, 
e g , T 4 I 248, TGV I I 67 The survival of a variant of who with ME 

eNE [o ], used, e g , by Hart (1570) and in Spenser's rhymes whose 
rose, those, will account for Shakespeare's rhyme who know, which is 
probably traditional 

When shortened early this [u ] < ME g gave [a] like [u ] < ME q 
m blood, other This is the simplest and most convincing explanation of 
modern struck, none, and nothing, and of dialectal [a] in stone, whole, 

3 Usually spelled scrowle, e g , MND 1 2 17 

4 Concerning the interpretation of these two instances of told see my article “Two 
Sets of Shakespearean Homophones,” pp 363 f^ 

5 Luick, §501, Horn, §96, Si Dial, §293 ff, Studta Neophtlologtca f ( 1934 / 35 )» 
121 f Hodges (1643) couples both and booth, boats and boots as pronounced alike 

6 Lyly’s pun moofi-moan in Euphues (p 222) need not be phonetically exact but is 
perhaps merely a jingle of the type dote-doubt discussed above On the other hand, 
The WrtUng Scholar's Companion (1695) lists Rome-roafn-rooin as homonyms (p 


7 Bullokar, p 78 But note the rhyme looke smooke (smoke) in Gammer Gurton's 
Needle x 2 19-20, which suggests [u ] or [u] m smoke 



home, etc ® In Shakespeare struck is often spelled strooke as m AC 3 ii 36, 
Cy 5 I 10, T 2 I 313, etc , strook in H i i 7, T 5 i 25, etc , strooken 
H 32282 (Q2, strucken F), RJ 1 1 239, LLL 43224 (plus stroke 
MWW 5 5 I, etc , stroken JC 3 i 209), but it is impossible to say whether 
00 here stands for [u ], [u], or [a] Other ^7o-spellings like bigboond 
3H6 5 3 3 (Q) and dootmg TC 5 44 (Q) might be interpreted as [u ], 
but much weight cannot be attached to them since they appear also m the 
14th— i6th centuries (OED), for schoole (shoal) M 176 see p 24, 

Shakespeare rh)nnes none most frequently with other p-\\ords like 
alone, bone, gone, groan, moan, stone, and with own, shown, but also with 
one (ambiguous, see below) and done, as well as with Condon, on, the 
former rhymes and the pun knotm-none reveal that he preferred the pro- 
nunciation [non], the regular development of ME nQn If the rhyme 
done none can be trusted, Shakespeare knew also the present-day pro- 
nunciation of none, but since done itself rhymes with gone, on, moon 
(see p 238, below), its evidence is not conclusive Moreover, none may 
have had a shortened form [non], rh3niiing with on, Condon, unless we 
have here a purely traditional linking of long and short vowel or, alterna- 
tively, a lengthening of the vowel in on and of the final 0 in Cortdon ® 
The regular pronunciation of one likewise appears to have been [o n] , for 
it rhymes most frequently with alone, bone, gone, lone, shone, thrown 
and IS used at least three times to pun on on , in addition it rhymes with 
done, none, sun, on, resolution, and man, note also once sons A clear 
indication of the coexistence of the modem pronunciation [wAn], or its 
immediate predecessor, is van in van urd MWW 3 i 81 (Q), van ting 

8 See Sf Dial , §296, and Studta Neophtlologtca, 7 ( 1934/35), 121 f The theory of 
a direct shortening of eNE [o ] < ME ^ to [a] as suggested by Ekwall, §81, and 
reasserted by him m “American and British Pronunciation,” p 175, is at variance 
with the early and modern dialectal evidence Ekwall does not know, or does not 
mention, that the shortened product of eNE [o ] survives in several English dialects 
as [0] (Wright’s symbol), which is doubtless the same sound as the much discussed 
New England vowel in whole, home, while in other dialects the shortened pioduct 
of ME § appears as [u] and [a] (see EDGr, §§122 f , 214) With its indifference to 
the phonological evidence and its misinformation concerning Amencan-English pro- 
nunciation (particularly the analysis of American [a] on p 174) Ekwall’s article is 
of no value for the problem under consideration or, for that matter, as a contribution 
to the study of American English This is equally true of Horn’s pretentious article 
“Probleme der neuenglischen Lautgeschichte,” m which Ekwall’s theory is rein- 
terpreted in terms of pitch influence 

9 For this lengthening of on see BuUokar, p 106, where reference is made to such 
a form in Bullokar Note the spelling one (on) Cy 5 S 134, which, however, may be 
an error 



MWW 4588 (Q), the French doctor’s coiruption of one word, one 
thing Nothing seems to have retained its [o ] to judge by the rhyme 
nothing doting and the pun nothing-noting But in no man woman the 
variant [nu ] may have been used to heighten the humoious effect of 
Valentine’s final couplet (TGV 3 i 104-5) » ^ facetious spelling-pronun- 
ciation [womsen], rhyming with [no maen], is, however, a possible 

If exact, strove love would indicate the use of a pronunciation [strAv] 
which had developed like struck , such a foim is still current in several 
dialects, as is [drAv] for drove Yet other rhymes like Jove love, grove 
love, and over lover rather point to its being an eye rhyme, originally 
based on [u ] for ME g in strove (as in Jove, grove, over), which was 
linked with [u] or [u ] in love ^ 

As the result of eNE shortening of ME Q, a few words like hot, gone, 
shone are today pronounced with [d] (in American English shone re- 
tains the old long vowel as [Joun]) That this shortening had a wider 
range in eNE than today is clear from the survival of such forms in mod- 
ern dialects and from occasional examples to be found in the early gram- 
marians Thus Hart (1570) indicates a short vowel (sometimes inter- 
changing with the corresponding long sound) in both, hoped, most, noth- 
ing, only, wholly, and Gill (1621) has the same quantity m both, nothing, 
only, openly Several of Shakespeare’s rhymes, if taken at their face value, 
seem to imply the use of such a shortened vowel, but we cannot dismiss 
the possibility that they aie cases of imperfect linking of [0 ] and [d] 
These are the rhymes in question alone anon, Corydon, boast cost, 
frost, lost (3x) , boat wot, coast lost, coat got, composed lost, en- 
grossed crossed , gone Acheron, anon (3x), benison, John, long, Oberon 
(2x), on (8x), Rossillion, upon (2x) , groan on, host cost, moan 
Corydon, (fore) gone, upon, moment comment, most lost (2x) , note 
pot (2x) , oak clock , oath wroth moth , smote not ^ The largest group 
of these, the rhymes between boa^t, most, etc , and lost, etc , has already 
been discussed on p 228, above, the simplest explanation being that short 
forms of the p- words were current when the practice of rhyming like this 
was first established Though anon, got, and wot are themselves products 
of shortening, rhymes with these should on the whole be as reliable as 

1 Spenser rhymes Jove love, above and discover over hover lover (Rime, 
§155), Marlowe Jove above, love, and The Pepys Ballads Jove move Wrenn errs 
in saying that love and grove “could never have rhymed exactly at any period of the 
language” (The English Language, pp 102 f, and “The Value of Spelling as Evi- 
dence,” p 36) , see also p 33, above 

2 For similar rhymes in Spenser see Rime, §§154 f 



those with on, upon, m spite of the fact that the latter may originally have 
had doublets with a lengthened vowel Short forms must therefore have 
existed in eNE not only of gone, hot (despite the conventional spelling 
hole H 2 2 132 [Q2], VA 276, R2 I I 51 [Q , but hotte Q2] ), and wroth 
but also of boat, coat (cf the pun coat-cod), note (cf the jingle nuthook- 
note), and smote, ^ spelled smot C 3 i 319, H i i 63, and perhaps even of 
(done, groan, moan, moment, oak, and oath, to what extent they were 
used by Shakespeare must remain an open question Very likely he had, 
or knew, two pronunciations of gone, that is, [go n] and [gon], but I am 
puzzled by his rhymes gone come, done, son (2x), sun , they might be of 
the same category as on you shun you, discussed on p 243, below, or else 
reflect a variant [gun] or [gun], rhyming conventionally with words 
having ME U Jingles like hohday-holy day, potent-potHng, and stone- 
astonish need not imply identity of sound, though there seems to have 
existed a short form of holy (OED), doubtless reflected m holly rode 
(Holy rood) 1H4 i i 52 (Q , holy roode F), holhdam TS 5 2 99 Over- 
rod 2H4 I I 30 and out-rod 2H4 1 1 36 must be shortened forms of rode 
(still heard in So), while potche (poach, vb 2) C i 10 15 appears to have 
been pronounced short m the idth-iyth centuries, as still in many dialects 
(OED) , but reproch RL 503, etc , a common early spelling (OED), is 

The apparent confusion of mote and moth, which caused the former to 
be consistently written moth as in H i i 112, H5 4 1 189, J 4 i 92, LLL 
4 3 161 (2x) , MND 5 I 324, O I 3 257 must imply the use of a shortened 
vowel in mote,^ a pun on the two words may actually be intended in 
C I 3 94 If ffoat and Goth were pronounced alike, as the two puns on the 
words suggest, either goat had the shortened vowel [o] or Goth was 
pronounced with [0 ], a vowel going back to ME ggth, regularly spelled 
Gothe and probably derived from Lat Goth rather than OE Gotan The 
pun dollar— dolour shows that dolour had [d], given as a variant pronun- 
ciation in OED , for the phonology of the word see OED The possible 
pun bonny-bony, with bonny spelled bony, would hinge on the use of a 
shortened vowel in bony, cf the 1598 spelling bonny cited in OED 
For polecat-pulcher see the explanation given on p 136, above 

A difficult phonological problem is the sporadic rhyming of ME ou and 
u, which is very likely conventional in Shakespeare and consequently not 
indicative of his pronunciation , it will be dealt with under ME w (p 245, 
below) ® Culfer (coulter) H5 5 246 represents the original form of the 

3 Cf rot-wrote, rod-rode, given as homonyms by Hodges (1643) 

4 - For the dialectal change of final [6] to [t] m moth see p 320, below 

5 See my article “Two Sets of Shakespearean Homophones,” p 358, for the 


word, which m St E developed like shoulder but appears to have re- 
mained undiphthongized in some dialects, including w So (OED) Solder 
appears as soader AC 3 4 32 and souldrest TmA 4 3 388, both of which 
point to a long vowel, [o ] 

The leveling of -ought and -aught, which gave modern [o t] and which 
IS evidenced by numerous rhymes m Spenser (Rime, §62), is exemplified 
in Shakespeare by the spellings ore-wrought (overraught) CE i 2 96, 
H 3 I 17 and by the rhymes naught thought (4x) , wrought , Shakespeare 
undoubtedly had the modern pronunciation Final -ough has become 
monophthongized in tho (though) H5 219 (Q), altho Hs 2 2 154 (Q), 
but [of] or [o f] in coffe MND 2 i 54 (rhyming with Ioffe, laugh), 
O 4229 (Q), c offing RJ 3 i 28 For the multiple rhyme caught her 
daughter slaughter halter after see pp 168, 183, above 

Little need be said here of ME gr and our Rhymes, puns, and spellings 
show that they had coalesced with ME gr, ur, and perhaps even with dr, 
the following rhymes are noteworthy as linking ME gr and dr adore 
thee abhor thee {ci on the other hand aiAor for thee) , more abhor, 
lord accord (2^), hoar nor,^ci the pun and similar puns 
and rhymes discussed on pp 227 and 239 Sorry story glory implies the 
preservation of the originally long vowel in sorry, without, however, 
proving it to have been Shakespeare's pronunciation, for Spenser, too, 
rhymes glory story hoary sorry The spellings coursers) R3 4167, 
TC S 5 10 and coarse RJ 3 2 54, etc , for corpse {s) reveal the leveling of 
the latter word with course (< ME curs) and coarse (of doubtful ety- 
mology) , note also the inverted spelling ozvers (oars) AC 2 2 199, for 
which cf p 247, n 3, below, ours (ore) AW 3 6 40, and scoure (score) 
CE I 2 65 If stur'd P 2 3 50 really stands for stor'd as in F3, a form 
accepted by all editors of the play, then it is almost certa nly a misprint 
and not a phonetic spelling 

00 m moon 

It IS now generally conceded that ME g in an independent position, as 
in do, moon, had become [u ] at least as early as the first quarter of the 
iSth century ^ Since then it has remained virtually unchanged, except for 

curious ballad rhyme cout ^em flout 'em, which I take to be a misprint of scout 'em , 
the F reading of the whole line is Flout 'em, and cout 'em and skowt 'em and flout 

6 Spenser has almost the same rhymes , see Rime, §§68 f 

7 Rime, §131 

8 See, e g , Bullokar, p 59, Wyld, pp 234 ff 



a varying degree of diphthongization * Shakespeare consequently had 
[u ] in words of this category, as indeed his rhymes knew too, lose tf 
abuse it and the pun loose-luce dearly show Some of his spellings like- 
wise point to this [u ], VIZ , mou'd (mood) P 3 pr 46, poule (pool) 3H6 
1 4 (Q), de la Poule ^ 2H6 i r 44 (Q), southsayer AC i 2 SD, and 
probably also owse {oozt) Hs i 2 164 and chuse T i 2 186, VA 79, etc ,2 
whereas howted (hooted) ® JC i 2 246 may represent a ME doublet with 
u (OED), and accustrement MWW 425 is a 16th-century variant of 
accou{s)trement , in boon-] our AYL i 2 103 and Mounseur MWW 
2 3 60 (cf mounseer, OED, and p 393, below) we notice the same ren- 
dering of the Fr nasal vowel as in Wodroephe’s (1623) froon (front), 
hoontuzes (honteuses), etc , quoted on p 247, n 2 

When ME q was shortened the result today is one of three sounds 
[d], as in gosling, if the shortening took place in ME times, and [a] or 
[u], as in blood, good, if it occurred after the raising of ME ^ > [u ] The 
present distribution of [a] and [u] is held to be primarily a problem of 
relative chronology very early shortening, almost immediately after the 
raising of ME ^ > [u ] , resulted m the coalescence of the new [u] with 
the reflex of ME u and its subsequent development to [a], while later 
shortening, after the unrounding and lowering of ME u to some kind of 
[a], gave modern [u] ^ Wyld (p 236) qualifies this chronological theory 
by the sensible suggestion that a mixture of dialect must also be reckoned 
with to account for our present usage, but Luick (§525) thinks that mod- 
em [u] in good is a compromise sound between [u ] and [a], a wholly 
unrealistic explanation in my opinion Whatever the reason for present- 
day [u] in good and [a] in blood versus [u ] in food, no such distribution 
pattern can be demonstrated in Shakespeare from the material in hand 
His rhymes give no clue to his pronunciation Thus food rhymes with 
good flood , good with blood (i7x), bud, flood (2x), jood, -hood, mood, 
(-)stood (2x), wood (2x) , mood with blood (2x), flood, good, -stood, 
stood with blood (4x), flood (3x), good (2x) , wood with blood (3x), 
flood, good (2x) , while blood is linked with brood, flood (4x), good 
(i7x), -hood, mood (2x), mud, (-)stood (6x), wood (3x) , and flood 
with blood (4x), good { 2 x),food, mood, mud, stood (2K),wood Before 

9 Jones, English Phonetics, §330 » the most common diphthong is a rising one, 
[uu ], the first element of which is the lowered and partly unrounded [u] 

1 See the discussion on pp 135 f , above 

2 See OED and Bullokar, pp 94 f 

3 In view of the spelling howling (hooting) JC i 328, there is little justification 
for the emendation of this form to shouted as done in the Qarendon ed (see also 
VarEd , p 50) 

4 See, eg , Horn, §103, Wyld, pp 235 ff 



nasals the pattern is the same doom come (5x), groom, moon, room 
( 4 x), Rome (2x), soon, moon Berowne, doom, (~)done, noon, soon 
(5x), {ajter)noon done, moon, son (2x), soon, soon doom, moon 
(5x), noon, vndone , and womb tomb (3x), which is itself linked with 
come ( 2 x), dumb (5x), and peihaps hymn Other rhymes of this type 
are foot boot (s^)>^oot, to't , root foot, toH , tooth doth , and {re)move 
love { 2 yx), Jove, (re)prove ( 4 x) , (re)prove dove, love (3Sx), (re)- 
move ( 4 x), prove 

The same or similar rhymes are used by Spenser and other 16th-century 
poets,® and Shakespeare’s rhymes may therefore be purely traditional, 
though the existence of phonetic doublets must always be reckoned with 
Indeed, colloquial usage at that time vacillated between [u ] and its short- 
ened products [u] and [a] Sir Thomas Smith (1568), eg, has a long 
vowel in cook, book, flood but long and short u in good, blood (unless his 
indication of quantity is inconsistent),® and similarly Halt (1570) has 
both u and u in book, good, mother, took, etc Bullokar (1585) gives 
[u ] in book, foot, hook but a short vowel in blood, flood, good, mother, « 
Gill (1621) transcribes book, cook, took, stood, tooth with u (= [u ]) 
but good, wood, blood, flood with u, which probably stands for [u] , ® 
but Hodges shows on the whole the modern distribution with [a] m blood, 
flood and [u] in hook, cook, foot, good, stood, etc (cf Kauter, §43) To 
assume that Shakespeare’s usage coincided in the main with this modem 
distribution of [u ], [u], and [a] is, m my opinion, more justified than 
to base it on Gill’s pattern I shall therefore postulate [u ] in brood, food, 
mood, and wood, which is, however, used in puns on wood (n ) and 
wooed, further in doom, room, groom, womb, moon, noon, soon, tooth, 
and perhaps in foot, despite the spelling fiit L i 2 143, which is undoubt- 
edly an elliptical form of 's foot < Chtsfs foot'^ In good, hood, stood, 
hook, look (note the significant rhyme Bohngbroke look), took Shake- 
speare probably used [u], and in blood, flood the normal reflex of ME u, 
[a] Prove and move may also have had the latter vowel, which would 
have made a perfect rhyme with love , since, however, Ben Jonson is the 
sole early authority for such a pronunciation of prove (see the discussion 

5 Rtme, §§I39» 152, I 53 , 320 ff Levins (1570) lists blood, flood, food, hood, mood, 
rood, stood, good, wood, -hood as rhymes in -oode 

6 Deibel, §§55 f 

7 Jespersen, Hart, §34 , it is impossible to determine the quality of Harfs u 

8 Bullokar, Word-Lists (pp 155 ff ) and pp 30 f 

9 In Lincolnshire, where Gill hailed from, ME is still [u] 

I See OED, foot sb ib, and fut , foot is still pronounced with [a] in many dialects, 
including Wa (EDGr, Index) The pun foot-foutre is not conclusive as regards 
the quantity of the vowel 



on p 243, below), it is perhaps safer to assume that prove and move were 
pronounced with [u ] and that the rhymes in question were already tradi- 

In eNE, Rome, with ME q, was regularly pronounced like room, that 
IS, with [u as IS shown by the pun Rome-^oom (2x) and the rhymes 
Rome doom, groom , the antecedent of the modern pronunciation of Rome 
may be reflected in the pun Rome-^oam and the rhyme Rome home, but 
this evidence is not conclusive, for as pointed out above (p 231) both 
roam and home had doublets with [u ] The name is spelled Roome TA 
I 1 151, 170, 193 (Q) 

A few spellings seem to indicate shortening of the vowel to [a], pos- 
sibly [u], VIZ , hudwinke T 4 i 206, hudmncht RJ i 44 (Qi-2), rough 
(roof) MV 3 2 204 (Q), sculs (schools of fish) TC 5 5 22 — cf scull 6-9 
(OED) and the Ha dialect form scull (EDD) — over-shut (over-shoot) 
VA 680 ME shortening accounts for hodman (hoodman) H 3 4 77 (but 
see OED), god-mght 1H4 i 3 194 (Q), a form used by Marston and 
others,^ and godden (good even) R J i 2 57, Godgtgoden RJ i 2 58, but 
wodden (wooden) T 3 i 62, a not uncommon i6th--i7th-century spelling 
(OED), must mean [u] or [a], and rots itself H i 5 33 is clearly the vb 
rot, used reflexively,^ in spite of the Q1-2 spelling rootes 

The rhyme does glorious suggests a short vowel in does, probably [a], 
but the spellings dooes TC i 2 221, doost TN 3 i i, dooth TN 317, TC 
45292 (here rhyming with tooth), (un)doone 3H6 ii (Q), 221 17 
(Q), though not unambiguous, rather point to a long vowel, taught, e g , 
by Le Maistre d'escole anglois (1580) in dost, doth and used by Hart 
(1570) in doth and done Shakespeare rhymes done most frequently with 
words like begun, sun but also with afternoon, moon and even with 
Amazon, gone, {up) on, as does Spenser, ® these last rhymes must orig- 
inally have been based on a ME doublet of done with o, though I doubt 
that Shakespeare ever used such a form 

2 Btillokar (1585) spells it Room, and early homonym lists couple Rome and Room 
as pronounced alike (see p 141, above) , in 1791 Walker asserted that “the 0 in this 
word IS irrevocably fixed in the English sound of that letter in move, prove, &c ” 

3 See good mght, OED, where occurs this quotation from Marston, The Malcon- 
tent “When our beauty fades, godmght with us” Cf the frequent god morrow 

4 So used m AC i 4 47 , see also OED, rot vb 4, and Kittredge, p 1039 

5 Hart favored a long vowel in done but a short m doth (§34) Hodges (1644) 
appears to have used [u] in done, dost but [u] and [a] in doth (Kauter, §43) 

6 Rime, §§154!, 333, done unknown AC 2784-5, though of the same type as 
Spenser^s done moan, is highly dubious since it occurs in an otherwise unrhymed 



Should and wouldf spelled shold T i 2 387, shuld RL 788, VA 1066, 
shoud MND 3 2 348 (Q), wold MND i i 201, twood TC 3 3 256, were 
almost certainly pronounced [Jud] and [wud] when fully stressed, but 
variants with [u ] may still have been preferred by conservative speakers, 
as indicated by Shakespeare’s pun wooed-would (perhaps with deliberate 
lengthening of the vowel in would) and his archaic rhyme cooled should ^ 

ME Q followed by r and r plus consonant, as in door, ford, has today 
become [o ] or [oo], except in moor, poor, which are now usually pro- 
nounced with [uo] An intermediate stage in the development was the 
normal raising of p > [u ], so that [u 1] coalesced with the reflex of ME 
Ur and shared with it the subsequent lowering to [0 j] , at this stage level- 
ing occurred with [0 j] < ME $r, our, but not until much later, when 
this [o j] had been further lowered to [d (j)], did we get the present 
leveling with the reflex of ME dr The lowering of [u j] < ME dr, ur 
was, however, considerably earlier than is generally assumed,® as will be 
seen from an examination of the relevant material in Shakespeare Like 
Spenser he rhymes door with before (6x), four (3x), more (S^), score, 
sore, store, wherefore , floor roar, moor before, poor more, store { 2 k), 
and whore more (3x), score, further afford lord (4x), board lord 
(2x), force horse (2x), forth north, and sword lord (3x), record 
Even more significant are the puns Moor-more, whore {s)-abhor, hoar, 
horse, Lat horum, which together with form-form and mourmng-morning 
(see p 249, below) establish the 16th-century occurrence of a lowered 
vowel for ME dr, ur, either [o ] or [0 ] Though the latter quality is sug- 
gested by the puns whore-abhor, horse, horum, form— form, mourmng- 
inormng and by Hodges’ (1643) equation of whores-hoarse-horse, abso- 
lute identity of sound is hardly essential for these puns , [0 j] is sufficiently 
like [d 1] to make them possible, while [u 1] is not 

The spellings are not particularly illuminating Dore CE 3 i 64, RL 1301 
(both in rhyme with before), RJ i 5 132 (Q), H8 5 2 24 suggests [o j], 
as does fourth rtghts T 3 3 3, an inverted spelling showing the leveling of 
fo 7 th and fourth Though most of the following spellings go back to ME 
times, some of them may nevertheless indicate the variant pronunciation 
[u 1] affoord R3 i 2 245, R J 3 i 63, boord AYL 5 4 148, H8 5 i 51, TN 

7 Sir Thomas Smith (1568) said [wu Id], and Gill (1621) not only [Ju Id], 
[wu Id] but [ku Id] 

8 Ekwall, §85, and Luick, §508, who disregard the rhyme and spelling evidence, 
place the completion of the sound-change at the end of the 17th century, which is 
from one hundred to two hundred years too late, if not more The conflicting state- 
ments of the early orthoepists simply mean that the lowering did not take place over 
the whole area but that certain regional or class dialects retained [u j] , which was an 
acceptable variant of [o a] m early St E until the end of the 17th century 



5 165, etc, aboard MV 2665, etc, o’re-boord T 22 126, joorth JC 
43 103, M 5 I 7, etc, hoard 2H4 43 125, RL 1318, etc, up-hoorded 
H I I 136, and joord L 3 4 53 (Q), which should be compared with the 
somewhat uncertain pun Ford-food 
Poor IS almost exclusively monosyllabic, except in TmA 5 4 69, where 
it has two syllables, suggesting the development of a glide between [u ] 
and [i], thus [uaj], [uai], or [0 3j] For monosyllabic towards see 
p 329, below 

u in sun 

How far ME U in sun had, m Shakespeare’s time, advanced toward its 
present sound [a] cannot be precisely determined That it was no longer 
[tj] is certain, for in 1653 Wallis compared his “obscure” u to eu in Fr 
sermteur and to Fr “e foemininum” (Lehnert, §§213 ff ) , his vowel 
must therefore have been similar to [ 3 ], [a], or [a] There is, however, 
even earlier evidence of a change in the quality of ME it the Welsh Hymn 
to the Virgin (r 1500) transcnbes English U by Welsh y, which was an 
unrounded, centralized vowel not unlike [a] (Sweet, §791), and French 
grammanans like Bellot (1580) and Mason (1622) identify it with their 0 
(probably the open sound in comma), ^ a comparison that apparently per- 
sists to the present time (Wyld, p 232) In his rough transcriptions of 
French words and phrases Wodroephe (1623) renders Fr eu and u in 
Dieu, seulement, jeune homme, quelqu’un, honteuses, and peut-etre by u, 
thus Dee~u, suleman, ju-noom, kelkun, hoontuzes, putetr (pp 127 ft ), 
forms which agree remarkably well with Wallis’ analysis of ii thirty years 
later, with Dutch spellings of names borne by the Pilgnm Fathers, and 
with the account of the vowel in an anonymous Dutch grammar of 1 568 ^ 
By the end of the i6th century, therefore, ME U had obviously become an 
unrounded, centralized, lowered vowel, qualitatively not very different 
from modem [a] 

As a Warwickshire man Shakespeare must originally have pronounced 
[u] for ME a, and this is still the regular dialectal sound , but as an actor 
in London he doubtless adopted the vowel current in the capital, and this 
was probably much closer to [a] than to [ui] (the fully unrounded [u] ) 
For this reason I shall use [a] here and in the appended transcriptions as 
a convenient symbol for Shakespeare’s H in independent positions 

9 Spira, Dte enghscite Lautentwcklwng, §§76, 125, also Zachrisson, English 
Vowels, pp 133 f 

I Bamouw, pp 27 ff Thus Butler, Hunt are spelled Boiler, Hont, while Dunham 
appears as Danhatn and Donhem, and Dunsfer as Denster 


Some indications of this [a] are actually to be found in Shakespeare 
One may look upon the rhym^? shudder adder ^ as an instance of inexact 
linking of [a] and [se] , this may also be true of punish languish, though 
Its occurrence in that part of P with which Shakespeare had probably very 
little to do makes it less valuable here ® Other instances of this kind are the 
Jingles come on-common, mutter-matter, tongue-tang, the Anglicization 
of Basimecu to Bus mine cue, the French doctor’s van (one) MWW 

3 I 81 (Q), 4588 (Q), the punning use of cosen garmombls MWW 

4 5 79 {Q)i malapropisms hony-suckle (homicidal), hony-seed and 
hempseed (homicide) 2H4 2 i 56-64, and Evans’ focative case, which 
should be compared with the obvious puns on Firk (firk) in Dekker’s 
The Shoemakers* Holiday ^ The same approximation in sound may ex- 
plain the puns on collar and color, unless there was a doublet of color with 
6, of which there seems to be some evidence in OED , the early lists of 
homonyms keep the two words apart, coupling collar with choler, and 
color with culler A deliberate, dialectal pronunciation of color with [o] is 
a less likely alternative ® 

The spelling material is on the whole of little interest Contrary to 
present-day usage, ME u appears as te, eg, in culler (color) S 99iS> 
cunnte (cony, for the two foims see OED) 3H6 i 462 (Q), Lumhardie 
TS I I 3, mungnll TC 5 4 14, ruffe (rough) 2H6 3 2 175, spungie T 
4 I 65 , as 0 in bodffd 3H6 i 4 19, somnet (summit) L 4 6 57, obbraidings 
TNK 3 6 32, and perhaps in top*d O 3 3 396, 5 2 136, which Pope with 
good reason emended to tupped (but see top vb i, ii in OED) , as ou in 
bouge JC 4 3 44, noushng VA 1115, ougly R3 i 3 227, as ow in bowget 
(see htlow), gowne (gum) TmA i i 21, powther (pother) L 3 2 50 (Q) , 
and as 00 in cooa M 42 14, moody 1H4 5 i 81, poopies (poppets) H 
3 2 257 (Q), poother C 2 i 234, woon WT i 2 86, whoo-bub WT 4 4 628, 
etc , and in roong (rung) RJ 4 4 4 (Q2),sproong VA 1168, toong AYL 
12268, wroong 1H4 218 (Q), yoong VA 1152 Bullingbrook{e'), 

2 As suggested by Zachnsson, Bullokar, p 57 But as I have already pointed out 
in “Shakespeare’s Pronunciation,” p 159, the isth-century spelling shadyr in Ludus 
Coientnae (EETS ES 120, p 148, 1 66) does not stand for shudder as suggested 
in the glossary (p 397) and in OED but is the vb shatter, used intransitively, ‘to 
become scattered or dispersed,’ with voicing of the intervocalic consonant 

3 Spenser rhymes other gather, flourish perish cherish, etc , set Rime, §§158 f, 

4 Eg , 1 1 130 “Here’s Firk, my fine firking journeyman,” and 3 1 3 ^ **Eyre 
quarrel not with me and my fine Firk, I’ll firk you if you do Margery 

Yea, yea, man, you may use me as you please ” 

5 But note the F spelling coulters (collars) RJ 1 462, for which Q has more cor- 
rectly colters, it IS probably a printer’s error 



Btdhnbrook(e) R2 1 1 124, 2 2 60, 62, etc (so throughout the play) repre- 
sents the original, etymologically correct pronunciation, now superseded 
by one based on the spelling Bohngbroke Curnors M i 7 23 is a blend of 
ME currour (< OF corour) and courier (OED) If not merely a mis- 
print, cushes (cuishes) 1H4 4 i 105 may reflect the same development 
as cushion < OF cuissin (Jordan, §239) , note on the other hand huishf 
(husht Q) 2H4 3 I II Roaming H i 3 109 is most likely a misprint of 
rouning (running) with a for u as in unsalhed LLL 5 2 352 ® and perhaps 
also in raddocke Cy 4 2 224 , the latter form may, however, be an inexact 
rendering of dialectal reddock, today heard in D and Do (EDD) Swoltery 
H52103 (Q) IS either a blend of sultry and sweltry or an o-e misprint 

The rhymes offer certain phonological difficulties ME u rhymes, of 
course, with itself, but there are, besides, a good many instances of its 
being linked with the reflexes of ME 0, Qy and ^ Apart from special 
cases to be discussed below, we find four groups of such rhymes 

1 u followed by plosive consonants, mainly d, as in bud good ( 2 x), 
understood , mud flood (spelled flud), blood, themselves rhyming with 
good, stood, mood, etc , up stoop, a doubtful case 

2 u before nasals as m come doom (5x), tomb (2x), home, gone, 
along, masterdom (cf come bottom m the song 2H4 5356-7), con^ 
sideration, coming roaming, son afternoon, noon, gone (2x) , sun 
gone, sung along , tongue belong (2x), long (6x), song (4x), strong 
(2x), throng (2x), wrong (20x), on, persuasion, young belong, long 
(7x), strong ( 2 ;x) , wrong , shun you on you 

3 The words love and lover with their derivatives, rhyming love{r) 
approve (6x), behove, move (i6x), prove (31X), remove (lox), re- 
prove (4x), grove (Sx), Jove (4x), {more) over (4x), strove 

4 u preceded by a labial consonant as m bush{es) blush, rushes, full- 
ness dullness , pull dull , wolf gulf 

By Ignoring the orthoepistic evidence discussed above and arbitrarily 
fixing Shakespeare’s u as [u] , by allowing this [u] to rhyme with [u ] 
whenever necessary, and by labeling the remaining cases eye rhymes or 
dialectal forms, we could, of course, make short work with the hetero- 
geneous rhyme material But this would clearly be unsatisfactory and 
misleading For one thing, Shakespeare was far from immune to the in- 
fluence of the rhyming tradition Spenser, e g , had the very same or 

6 This spelling suggests that salhed H 1 2 129 (Q2) for sohd (F) should be in- 
terpreted as sulked, as is done, e g , in the CaED , on the other hand, salhed may be 
an unrounded form of sohd, like daft for doffed, etc , discussed above, p 168 For 
this crux see further Kittredge, p 1028 



closely related rhymes/ except shun you on you and the doubtful up 
stoop, though the former can be paralleled by Spenser's thereon -upon 
won, with other 16th-century poets, including the ballad writers, the 
practice was much the same ® Accordingly we cannot safely draw any con- 
clusions regarding Shakespeare's pronunciation from the above rhymes 
without corroborative evidence from less ambiguous sources Unfortu- 
nately this IS almost nonexistent 

Most of the rhymes of Groups i and 2 above have already been dealt 
with (see pp 234, 236 f ) Those between -ung and -ong should be com- 
pared with the data given by some of the early orthoepists , thus accord- 
ing to Butler (1634) zvrong and wrung were homonyms, and according 
to Hodges (1643) so were tongues and tongs, while later orthoepists like 
Festeau (1672), Miege (1685), and Flint (1740) prescribe the vowel 
[d] in tongue,^ which may have been used by Shakespeare, too, in his 
pun tongues-tongs The picture is further complicated by the puns rung- 
wrong, wrung-wrong, which may imply [a] m wrong or [d] in (w)rung, 
and by the leveling m the modern Wa dialect of ME ong and ung under 
[og] ^ At one time a leveling of either kind may have started the tradi- 
tion of rhyming -ung -ong, and there is every likelihood that certain 
regional or social groups m 16th-century London pronounced even other 
-ung words than tongue with [d] , shun you on you, too, may represent 
such a dialectal survival in London English, unless it is a vestige of 
Shakespeare's native dialect 

The fourth group is equally inconclusive Shakespeare's usage was 
probably similar to our own, but theoretically at least (if we ignore his 
Wa background) he may well have used [a] both in bush and in blush 

Though I am convinced that the above rhymes with love(r) are all eye 
rhymes, it is impossible to ignore Ben Jonson’s explicit statement in his 
GrammcLr (1640) that both love and prove were pronounced with the 
short ^'flat" sound ^‘akin to w," that is, [a] It would be logical to assume 
that he had the same vowel in move At any rate, today [prAv] is heard 

7 Rime, §§152-5, 334 ff Even woli gulf occurs in Spenser 

8 In the University of Wisconsin collection there are, e g , 45 cases of among 
rhyming with long, strong, etc , from the i6th century Shakespeare rhymes among 
with belong, strong, sung Bullokar, who distinguishes between the vowels m tongue 
and long, nevertheless rhymes these two words (Zachrisson, Bullokar, p 118) 

9 See Mather Flint, pp xxxix, 120 

I According to Collins, similarly EDGr, §101 The more common Wa vowel 
reported by Wright (EDGr, §98) and Ellis is it, which to judge from EDGr, §15, 
is an unrounded, lowered variant of u, acoustically similar to [o], that is, probably 



in Nf and [ihav] in O, Nf, E, So (and both in Sc, EDGr, Index) Other 
grammarians, however, indicate a long vowel [u ] in move, prove and 
usually the short vowel < ME H in love, except Smith (1568) and Har t 
(t570)> who have [u ] here, tins [u ] m love, which must have been 
obsolescent or dialectal * in the latter half of the i6th century, can hardly 
have been used by Shakespeare, even though it would account for the 
seemingly anomalous rhymes with grove, Jove, strove, and over (see fur- 
ther p 233, above) To assume that Shakespeare said [Iav] and [pru v] 
(or possibly [prAv] ) is much less hazardous than to maintain that he 
clung to the old-fashioned vanant [lu v] 

The remaining rhymes are fairly easy to explain Avouch it bowget 
(budget) IS exact as far as the stressed vowel is concerned, for budget 
originally had u , to judge by the spellings cited in OED, this form with 
unshortened ME fl was still current during the i6th century The rhyme 
seems to be uniquely Shakespearean Drajdon rhymes touch avouch, 
which if exact points to either a shortened vowel in avouch or a long 
vowel in touch, a vanant used by Bullokar (p 28) Courage forage is 
also exact, since forage goes back to Fr fourrage and should have been 
pronounced with [a] today, the spelling gave us our [o] In discover 
endeavor we have to do with the well-known vanant of cover with ME 
^<OF ue, reflected in the 14th- and 15th-century spellings dishyuei, 
dyskeuer (OED) , » Shakespeare may have used both [?] and [a] in 
discover, for he rhymes it also with lover And enough off may well be 
a dialectal rhyme, according to Wright (EDGr, Index) the [D]-hke 
vowel, which he writes u, is the s Wa sound in enough 

ou m house 

The diphthongization of ME U in house, now, which began simul- 
taneously with the raising of ME o to [u ], had in Shakespeare’s day 
reached a stage which may conveniently be rendered [au] The first 
element of this diphthong must have varied in the regional and soaal 
dialects heard in London, but a more or less centralized vowel akin to 
[a] would seem to be the most plausible sound to postulate for polite 
speech It agrees well with the vowel Wallis (1653) and Wilkins (1668) 
considered to be the first element of their diphthong, viz , « in cut, then 
virtually identical with modern [a] In 1580 Bellot compared the English 
diphthong to Fr au, aou, and in 1622 Mason transcribed how ‘haou’ — 

« Devon, had [u ] and [0 ] in above, which tallies pretty 

well with W, So [o ] and D [q ] as reported in EDGr, Index 
3 Spenser rhymes gwoer ,R%me,%x(io 


what they heard was either [au] or [au] ^ There is, however, no evidence 
to indicate how Shahespeare himself pronounced the diphthong, the mod- 
ern Wa phoneme, which is reported to vacillate between [seu] and [eu], 
may ultimately go back to the postulated [ou] or be a later importation 
from another dialect ® 

Like Spensei, Shakespeare occasionally couples ME U and ou in rhyme, 
as in allowing growing, howmg growing, brow glow, grow, mow, 
cow low , jowls controls, souls, town known, and like Marlowe, who 
rhymes down throne, he has down hone ® These are doubtless tradi- 
tional rhymes and consequently phonetically inexact in terms of Shake- 
speare’s pronunciation. Phonologically they are difficult to explain satis- 
factorily, especially doTJon hone, with its linking of klE u and g Leveling 
of ME u and ou is rare in modern dialects,^ and where it has occurred it 
must be an eNE development, resulting from the survival of ME ou as a 
diphthong, perhaps [od], and the diplithongization of ME u to [uiu] > 
[ou] rather than to [^u] as in the incipient Standard language, to my 
knowledge we have no record of a monophthongization of ME ou > u 
m late ME ® Nor do we have any northern dialect that has leveled ME u 

4 Miege (1685) and Eint (1740) make the same identification, see Mather Flint, 
pp 120 f The diphthongization of ME u cannot have followed the course suggested 
by Wyld, p 240, which does not pay due heed to present diphthonging tendencies 
Instead we shall ha\ e to assume that the first stage of the process was the develop 
nient of a g-lide [u] or [la] before [u ], resulting in the rising or level diphthong 
[uiu], which then developed as follows [uiu] > [uiu] > [su] > [au] > [au] , see 
Sf Dial, §309 

5 Ellis and Wright record [au] from Wa, but since they do the same for Sf, 
where the diphthong is [eu] iSf Dial , §138), we cannot place too much confidence 
in their analysis 

6 Brow, which rhymes with show in Marlowe, is a very popular rhyme word in 
the 17th century, linked not only with allow, now, etc, but also quite frequently 
with below, flow, glow, grow, know, show, snow, throw, etc, and even with go, foe 
etc Down rhymes with tnfecHon, noon in Guilpm, and with unknown, overthrown in 
A Paradise of Dainty Devices , m the 17th century Rochester rhymes it with alone, 
known, none, own, soon, throne, thrown, and Dryden with grozm, known, moon, 07 ie 
own, throne, thrown, ^one 

7 According to Ellas and Wright such coalescence has occurred in several dialects 
(see, e g , EDGr, §§127, vjx), including Sf , since, however, the Sf dialect keeps the 
reflexes of ME u and ou strictly apart, pronouncing the former [su] and the latter 
[au] (Sf Dial , §§132 £, 140 ff ) , it would certainly be unwise to rely on their analyses 

8 Such a conjecture is put forward by Dobson (pp 57 f )» without the slightest 
evidence to substantiate it In early ME, however, ME dw ( < OE edw) became u 
in yu because of weak stress and m fUr < fuwer (four) probably because of the 
preceding labial (Luick, §373, Jordan, §109) , normallj early ME coalesced 
with $u, both becoming ou <Jordan §§105 f ) 



in down and ME g in bone under [u ] The appearance of such a rhyme 
in southern writers suggests shortening of ME U to u and the use of [u] 
or [a] for ME g (for this development of ME ^ see p 231, above) Such 
eNE shortening of ME u was apparently more common than can be in- 
ferred from modern dialects, a clear case is muss < mouse (a term of 
endearment),® another the pun on nun and noun in Eastward Hof 
(23 I54ff ) ^ On the other hand, a deliberate northern pronunciation 
of crown with [u ], rhyming with [u ] < ME g, is used in noon crown to 
lend local color to Peter of Pomfret’s alleged prophecy as quoted by Philip 
the Bastard (J 4 2 15 1-2) 

Shakespeare further rhymes coward with froward and toward, a link- 
ing that calls to mind Jones’ (1701) inclusion of coward, with Howard, 
froward, toward, among his examples of "'the sound of a written wa ” 
Ekwall {Jones, p 25, §556) voices his doubts as to the correctness of this 
inclusion, pointing out, however, that according to Walker (1791) 
Howard, though normally pronounced like how, generally rhymed with 
froward "among people of rank” , under such circumstances Ekwall ad- 
mits the possibility that Jones knew a form [ho 9rd], without, however, 
explaining it Unless there was a ME doublet with 0 ( < OF coart, OED) , 
which survived in eNE times, coward may have shared the development 
of gourd a ME [ku ojd], with or without the loss of the medial [o], 
gave both [kouord] > [kauod] and [kooid] the latter rhyming with 
froward, toward 

Gill (1621) kept up the historical distinction between bowl < ME 
bolle and bowl < OF boule, but the confusion of the two words, leading 
to modem [boul] for both, is noticeable in Shakespeare he rhymes bowl 
(< ME bolle) with foal and owl, but bowl ( < OF boide) with foul owl 
The noun (and vb) wound rhymes traditionally with found, ground, 
hound, etc , perhaps indicating a pronunciation [wound], apparently used 
by Smith (1568) and still a current provincialism, since, however, Gill 
and Butler (1634) said [wu nd] and Shakespeare has woon'd J 5 S 7 for 
the p t of wind, which Butler also pronounced [wu nd] , it seems more 
likely that he used [u ] in both cases With the loss of initial [w] as in 
zoun{d)s Oil 108, R J 3 I 52, etc , and od’s-Nownes MWW 4 i 25, the 
normal diphthong [ou] was used 

The same mfluence of w is seen in swoonds (swoons) AC 4926, 
swoonded JC i 2 249, etc , early loss of w resulted in the frequent variant 
sound AYL 5229, sounded TA 5 i 119, sounds H 52319, etc , note 

9 The tentative etymology of muss proposed m OED is most unlikely in view of 
the fact that mouse is also used as a term of endearment , see mouse 3a, OED 

I For such shortening see p 247, and Sf Dial , §310 


also the blends swound AYL 3517, swownded WT 5 2 98, which may 
have been pronounced with [wu ] or [w9u] 

Three instances of a jingle (or pun) fool-fout-fowl^moy imply either 
that the undiphthongized (northern) variant [fu 1] of foul {fowl) was 
sufficiently familiar to Londoners for them to pick up such a pun, or rather 
that a certain amount of distortion of [u ] in fool or of [ou] in foul (fowl) 
was used, particularly in TN i 5 14 ff , where fool is not balanced by foul 
(fozvl) as in the other cases When in MWW i i 18 Evans misunder- 
stands luce as louse, we are entitled to assume that his own pronunciation 
of louse was more like [lu s] than [bus] Princess Katherine's associa- 
tion of gown, as pronounced by Alice, with the vulgar Fr con, which was 
probably [ku ] is another instance of a foreigner's English being used 
for punning purposes, Alice may have said [gu n] or [goun], which the 
Princess heard as [ku ] 

The spellings are of relatively httle interest Droupes (droops) 1H6 
2 5 12, and stoupe (stoop) 3H6 i i 108, etc , are common early variants 
with ou < ME u The famous crux schoole (of mght) LLL 4 3 255 ('‘the 
hue of dungeons, and the Schoole of night"), variously emended to ‘stole,' 
‘soil,’ ‘suit,' ‘scowl,' etc , is almost certainly scowl as first suggested by 
Theobald (for similar uses of scowl see OED) Its 00 for ou is no more 
remarkable than is 00 in shoote (shout) LLL 4 i SD, shooting (shouting) 
C I I 218, what apparently happened was that Shakespeare wrote scoule 
or schoule, which the printer, misreading ou as 00, took to be the word 
school ^ Cooch (couch) O i 3 231 (Q) maybe an analogous case or repre- 
sent a shortened form (cf cuche 5, OED) In beholds (behowls) MND 
5 I 379 (Ff, Qq) we again notice the interference of the printer , Shake- 
speare must have written behoulds, with the same excrescent d as in 
scnch'ould TC 5 lo 16, which in view of such common spellings as could 
(cold), bould (bold) was misinterpreted as beholds 

Shortening of ME u to u has occurred in huswife AC 4 15 44, Hs 5 i 8$, 
MND 2 I 37, etc , hiiszviferie Hs 2 3 63, etc , huswives 2H4 3 2 341, etc , 
in pun (pound, vb) TC 2 i 42 (punne Q) , and apparently also in un- 
bounded H I 5 77 (unhunded Q2), pronounced ['An'hAzld] , cf husel, 
hosel 3-6, hushel 6-7, OED 

2 See Nyrop, i, §225 Wodroephe (1623) transcribes un homme 'unoom,* les 
hommes 'le-zoomes,’ jront ‘froon,* etc 

3 For such interference see p 24, above We have an excellent parallel m Wyatf s 
fiftieth sonnet as published in TotteVs Miscellany, here Wyatt’s MS form owre 
( = oar) appears as houre, because there was nothing m the context to tell the printer 
that it actually represented oar, see my article ‘Two Sets of Shakespearean Homo- 
phones,” p 360, n 5 



The development of ME ur is much less clear than that of ME u m an 
independent position Shakespeare has many rhymes like flower bower, 
hour shower, power deflower, which reveal nothing concerning the pro- 
nunciation of ME ur, but he also has the significant rh3mies hour jour, 
roar, sure, syca^mre , deflower Moor before, ours contributors, pro- 
gemtors, and perhaps power sure The latter type of rhyme, which 
occurs also in Spenser and other 16th-century poets, ^ agrees with the puns 
hour-whore, hour-o'er, and flower- floor, with Machyn's (1540) spelling 
alff a nore,^ and with the obsolescent Sf pronunciation [o 9] (hour) 
Furthermore, it is confirmed by such early spellings as sc{h)oryn(g), 
skoryng in Sf documents of the 15th and i6th centuries,® by 14th- and 
15th-century forms like pore, poar, poor for power, by Shakespeare’s 
poorest (pour’st) S 382, by the homonyms hoar(y)-whore-hour-our 
and sour-sore-sower-soar-swore in The Writing Scholar* s Companion 
(1695), and by Peyton’s (1756) transcription [choer] (shower), which 
itself agrees with the 18th-century spelling shore (OED) It is obvious 
that hour was commonly pronounced with [0 ] or [o ] and that other 
iir words must have shared this development, but the precise scope and 
causes of this sound-change are hard to determine 

If, as is generally held, the lowering effect upon U m course, etc , should 
be ascribed to the following r plus consonant and not to r alone, then we 
are obliged to assume that hour obtained its [0 ] analogically from the pi 
hours But such analogy from inflected forms, which may explain modern 
pour and the above o-spellings of scour and shower, cannot be reckoned 
with in power, our, sour or in the East Anglian bor (< OE [ge]bUr), 
which as a word of address is predominantly, if not exclusively, singular 
We shall probably be nearer the truth if we assume that this particular 
development of ME ur followed different paths in different dialects m 
some it was generally lowered to [0 jl] > [o j], irrespective of whether 
or not r was followed by another consonant, in others the lowering took 
place only before r plus consonant If this hypothesis is correct, both [o ] 
(or [o ] ) and [au] would have been heard in words like hour, power, 

4 Thus hour rhymes with creature {TotteVs Miscellany), and with chancellor, 
succour, door, more ( Mirror for Magistrates) , ours with ancestors towers {ibid ) , 
power with governor (TotteFs Miscellany), emperor (Marlowe), more, conqueror 
assure sure (.Mirror for Magistrates) , Peele (Arraignment of Pans) has bowers 
yours, flowers yours For Spenser see Rime, §150 

5 Bullokar, p 97, and Wijk, p 168, whose explanation of the o, however, is unac- 

6 See Sf Dial, §311, and my article ‘Two Sets of Shakespearean Homophones,” 
PP 359 f 

7 Ibid Kcid Bullokar, g 97 


pour, etc , during the Elizabethan period and for a long time after , 
eventually [ou] established itself as the StE sound (later becoming 
[au] ) , with pour as the sole survivor of the other development ® 

Shakespeare’s vowel for ME nr in hour, mourn, etc , was therefore 
either [o ] or possibly [o ] It had become fully leveled with the reflexes 
of ME or, gr, and our, as rhymes, puns, and spellings unmistakably show , 
whether it had also coalesced with [o ] < ME or cannot be so precisely 
determined owing to lack of conclusive evidence The mam issue, I should 
say, IS the phonological interpretation of the puns morning-mourning, 
form-form, horse-hoarse-whores, abhor— whore-horum, which should be 
compared with occasional rhymes between ME or on the one hand and 
ME or, gr, our on the other (see pp 227, 235, 239, above) It is not un- 
hkel}^ that m certain regional or class dialects the lowering of the vowel 
m ME or, gr, our had already resulted in [o ] If so, the same would apply 
to ME lir On the other hand, [o ] and [o ] are acoustically similar enough 
to permit punning on words like mormng-^ourmng with little or no dis- 
tortion of either vowel, in that case the rhymes just referred to must 
have been inexact as regards the vowel quality both in Shakespeare and 
m Spenser, not to mention other 16th-century poets rhyming in the same 
manner The least hazardous assumption would be, I suppose, that Shake- 
speare distinguished between [o j] for ME or, Qr, our, ur (with [ouj] 
as a variant for ME ur) and [o j] for ME dr (with [a i] as a sporadic 

With the pun course-curse, which seems to indicate a variant of course 
with unlengthened u, probably reflected in curs 4 (OED , similarly surs 
5-6 for ‘source’), we may compare the rhymes nurse course in TotteVs 
Miscellany (p 90) and verses courses, course spurs in Butler’s Hudi- 
bras I I , the use of [0 ] or [o ] in curse as in some northern dialects 
today IS a less likely explanation 

Whatever their pronunciation, hour, power, sour, flower, etc , could 
be either monosyllabic as in houres (hours’) RJ pr 12, power T i 299, 
fioure RJ 2 2 122 (Q2), sower RJ 2 5 24 or disyllabic as in houres RJ 
2511, power C I 2 9, flowers R3 4 4 10, sower CE 5 i 45 , note flower 
(one syllable) and deflowred (four syllables) in the same line, RJ 4 $ 37 

er, ir, ur 

Today ME er, ir, ur as in serve, bird, fur have been leveled under [3 ], 
except for those cases of ME er that have instead coalesced with ME dr, 

8 Flasdieck's explanation of pour (Anglta, 5 < 5 , §203) is incompatible with the 
orthographic and orthoepic evidence here presented 



€ g , jcLr, heart, clerk In Shakespeare’s time the same general pattern is 
clearly discernible, but the percentage of ar as against er was then much 
larger than now, while on the other hand the leveling of er with Ir/ur 
had perhaps not yet been completed in the pronunciation of the best 
speakers , the date of this leveling is a controversial issue, on which un- 
fortunately the material before us does not shed much new light ® 

Let us begin with the change of ME er to ar, evidenced in Shakespeare 
by rhymes, puns, and spellings He rhymes convert art (2x), heart 
depart, desert impart, part (2x) , heard regard (2x), reward, ward 
serve carve , ^ and he puns on heard-hard, person-parson, and virtuous- 
fartuous His ar-spellmgs are quite numerous Barkl{e)y 1H4 i 3249 
R2 2 2 118, clarke R2 4 i 173, darth R3 2 3 35 (Q , dearth F), desart(s) 
H 2 2 SS3, 5S5, O I 3 140, TGV 542, WT 332, desartlesse MA 3 3 10, 
argo 2H6 4231, argali H 5 i 13, gar don (guerdon) LLL 31 171, 174, 
hard (heard) AW 2 5 33, TA 2 3 285 (Q), Harford R3 4 5 10 (Q , Hert- 
ford F), Jarman(ie) 2H4 2 i 157, 4 5 90, Leartes H i 2 42 (Q, 

consistently so), marcantanf (mercantante) TS 4263, marmatde(s) 
H 47 178 (Q2), RL 1411, VA 429, 777 (Q1-4), parmacity (spermaceti) 
1H4 I 3 58, pardonato TS i i 25, parfect LLL S 2 503 (Q) , parlous AYL 
3 2 45, MND 3 I 14, parlowes MWW 1 4 (Q), parson L i 2 179 (Q), 
partly C 11 40,® starling (sterling) H i 3 107, bed-swarver WT 2 i 93, 
tashan (tertian) H5 2 i 124 (Qi, 3), tarmagant (Termagant) H 3 2 15 
(Q) There are also some inverted spellings with er for original ar har- 
mony H 3 2 378, hermomous MND 21151 (Q), partake R3 i i 89 (Q), 
S 1492, perHcular H 2 i 12 (Q2), whereas herbenger M 1445 and 
mervell L 42 i, etc , are the historical forms (like mar chant CE i i 150, 
marchandtse R J 2 2 84, etc ) A few aa-spellmgs, on the analogy of ea in 
heart, should probably be interpreted as evidence of [a ], viz, hearb- 
{e,-s) MND 2 I 169, 173, 184, 32366, TA 3 i 178 (Q), peart (pert) 
MND I I 13 (Q), stearne MND 3 2 59, tearmes 1H4 2 3 52, 51 10, 
MND 4 I 61 (Q), and invertedly yearne C i 3 93 

This impressive list of ar-forms in Shakespeare could easily be aug- 
mented by examples from contemporary documents, e g , Queen Eliza- 
beth’s writings and Machyn’s diary,® in Laneham’s letter (1575) we 

9 See Bullokar, pp 52 ff 

1 Spenser has many rhymes of this type , see Rtme, § 169 

2 But see VarEd , p 25 

3 Wyld pp 214 ff Machyn has sarten, clarke, armyn (ermine), hard (heard), 
harseoxid hors{s)e (hearse), carsseys, marsars, ma(r)ser(s), marmed (mermaid), 
parson, sarmon, sarvand, siarne, vargers, like orbese for herbs and forne for fern, 
his or in hearse doubtless reflects the leveling of dr and dr as rightly suggested by 
Wijk, p 89 


find parson, parsonage, penclark, and the old doublet parfit These spell- 
ings obviously represent contemporary pronunciations, but who would 
venture to specify which ^r-words in Shakespeare were pronounced with 
[a ] and which with some other voweP Most of the relevant words doubt- 
less had [a ], for as Wyld (p 215) has shown, ar-pronunciations appear 
to have been almost universal for at least two centuries and a half (1 e , 
from about 1500 to 1750) among the politest speakers Thus we may 
safely assume that he used [a ] in eternal and Verges, to go from the 
sublime to the ridiculous, even though they appear only with er, but that, 
perhaps, he did not use it in ei r His own usage is the harder to establish 
because we cannot now be sure of the social status of individual pronuncia- 
tions, that is, whether e g , hard for heard would pass muster in fashion- 
able circles, though sartatn for certain would be frowned on as vulgar 
This was perhaps the situation, if we can trust Coote (1596), who ac- 
cepted the former but rejected the latter pronunciation On the other 
hand, this condemnation of sartain may have been an idiosyncracy with 
him, for in 1644 Hodges taught ar not only in certain and heard but also in 
mercy, merciful, perfect (transcribed parfit), 4 y, -ness, person, observe, 
presei ve, sergeant, serpent, serve, servant, service, swerve, and verjuice ^ 
The only conclusion we can draw from a study of the early orthoepists is 
this, that usage was highly individualistic as regards the acceptance or 
rejection of ar-pronunciations, and that their number was gradually being 
reduced by the encroachment of present-day [3 ] Nevertheless at the 
end of the i8th century the actor John Kemble pronounced -ar- in virtue,^ 
and I have it on absolutely reliable authority that a ninety-year-old Ox- 
ford dowager still says sarvant How firmly entrenched ar had actually 
become in the speech of Shakespeare and his contemporaries can be seen 
from their use of it in names like tarmagant, Leartes, th'argaman (th - 
Hyrcanian, see below) and Henslowe’s anwarp{p)e (4x) for Antwerp 
(similarly Antwarpes in Qi of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus), as well as in 
loanwords like argo, which the Clown twists into argali, parmacity, par- 
donato, marcantant While Shakespeare obviously used ar in a large 
number of words in which today such a pronunciation would be branded 
as vulgar or dialectal, it would, on the other hand, be unwise to assume 
that this was the only sound for ME er he knew For there is unmistaka- 
ble proof in his plays that the antecedent of modern [3 ] was a variant 
he also used, though far less frequently than [a ] 

Since present-day [3 ] in serve must go back to a ME er that was not 

4 Kauter, §10 Note Butler’s remark "(1634) “we writ^ person, though we say 
parson** (p 3), and John Taylor’s rhyme harnesse Holophernes 

5 Wyld, p 215 , also Horn, “Zur enghschen Buhnensprache,” pp 40 f 



changed to ar, the mam problem confronting us will be to determine how 
far this old er had become centralized in Shakespeare's time The first 
grammarians to record an [3 ] -sound are Dames (1640), who has the 
same vowel m erred as m h%rd while rendering nerve by mrve^ and Wallis 
(1653), who expressly states that e in er due to the following r should be 
pronounced like ''e foemininum " ® There is even earlier evidence to show 
that the coalescence of er with wjur was actually proceeding, or had per- 
haps been completed, at least m the colloquial speech of certain classes or 
regional groups Thus we have some quite early wr-spellings for ^r, e g , 
m Machyn's diary, where surmon (6x) appears for sermon, purjure for 
perjure, sercotte for sure oat, and Burgany for Bergavenny"^ Similar 
cases occur in Shakespeare, where we find surge for serge 2H6 4 7 27 
and serge for surge MWW 3 5 125, Bnrgomaske MND 5 i 368, Costaid's 
pursents for presents LLL 5 2 488, and the obvious jingle or pun on ptirse 
and person 2H4 2 i 127 (perhaps also MV i i 138) , the latter may, how- 
ever, be an imperfect linking of [3 ] and [a ] His rhymes are less illumi- 
nating, since they are all traditional and, besides, may involve doublets 
This IS true in particular of earth btrth (4x), dearth (2x), which are 
exact whether we postulate [3 ] or [a ] as the rhyme vowel, for birth 
had a ME doublet with e , so, perhaps, had churn rhyming with quern 
The rhyme eai th death in 2H6 ( Q ) and perhaps also m R2 is not unique , 
it occurs twice in A Gorgeous Gallery (1578), where earth likewise 
ihymes with breath, and m A Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576-1606) 
If genuinely Shakespearean, this rhyme would imply the use of a pro- 
nunciation [^ 0 ] or [§ 9 ], still heard in So, Do, D Herd beard and 
herds are equally ambiguous ® and so is beard Nor can any- 
thing be learned from err her, erred transferred, verse disperse, en- 
hearse, rehearse, or from perch search, which may even have been pro- 
nounced with [e ] ® Rhymes like her there, were (similarly Spenser her 
•were) and messenger fair, harbinger near, there, murderer appear, vil- 
lager here may be between the unmodified [^j], perhaps approaching 
[ej], and [ex] or, as far as there and were are concerned, between, on 
the one hand, [3 x] for her and -er under secondary (metrical) stress and, 
on the other, the restressed forms of there, were with [3 j] ^ 

6 Dames, pp 30, 32, Lehnert, §§72, 90 ff 

7 Wijk, p 89 For a discussion of this evidence see pp ^2 ^ ^ snd Sf Dtal , 

§318 Lyly puns on proverbs and suburbs m Mother Bombte 4 2 13-14 

8 Bullokar has a long vowel in herd (p 49) 

9 See my discussion m Mather Flint, pp 124! , also Rime, §172 Note Lyl/s 
forced pun on herbage and hatrbadge in Midas 3 2 23-6 '*if it be a beard it must be 
at herbadge, for a beard is a badge of haire , and a badge of haire, hairbadge 

I For Spenser's rhyme her were see Rime, §170 Mason (1622) seems to have had 


The relatively early coalescence of ir and ur is indicated by wr-spellings 
for ir and by the statements of some of the grammarians ^ Shakespeare 
has a few spellings of this kind, viz, hard 3H6 i i (Q), hurholt MA 
I I 41, durt Cy 3 6 54, 2H6 4 i 71 (Q), TC i 2 259, TS 4 i 59, H 5 i 117 
(Qa), Cy 36 56, H 51 no (Q2), HS36 (Q), MND 2 2 75, and 
the inverted forms hyrncano's (F), hircamos (Q) L 3 2 2 (hurricane) 
But the rhymes first {ac) cursed, worst and stur{re) incur, spur prove 
nothing, for both first and sHr, spelled sturre H i i 161 (Q2), R J 5 3 147 
(Q), sturnng VA 302, had ME doublets with ii On the other hand the 
pun third-turd, resulting from a Frenchman’s inability to pronounce th, 
clearly shows the current pronunciation of ir m third The vowel then used 
for ir/iir must have been the same or very nearly the same as today, that 
IS, [3 ] with or without a trace of r (see below) Wallis (1653) compared 
his u to Fr eu, saying that it was also similar to Fr ''e foemminum,” and 
this IS as close an approximation to the modern sound as one can expect 
from these early phoneticians His analysis tallies nicely with Wodroephe’s 
(1623) transcriptions of Fr eur, which he renders ur^e) in kur (ccDeur), 
sure (soeur), Redamtur, taa-eelur, su-ur (sueui), asture (a cest heure), 
toot a-stur — cf tout asture H5 4 4 38, once he writes so-vear (sauveur), 
which points to the same sound for ear in heard The above-mentioned 
pun on Firk is a further indication of the close similarity between ir and 
ur on the one hand and independent u on the other (see p 241, above) 
For this reason I have in the appended phonetic transcriptions of Shake- 
spearean passages decided to use [a] for u and [3 ] for ir/ur and er 
(when not pronounced ar) 

Certain ^r-spellings for %r may be interpreted m the same way They 
are besmerch H i 3 15, Mermidons TN 2329, merttll MM 22 117, 
mertle AC 3 12 9, Sherly 1H4 5 4 41, perhaps also cherping 2H6 3 2 42 
(Q) and sker H5 4 7 64, both of uncertain origin , but shert 1H4 4 2 48-50 
(Q> 3'^) ^ 3*7 he derived from a ME doublet with e,^ while the frequent 
hir, e g , 2H4 2 2 98, IS a normal variant of her Vertue T i 2 27 is the 
historical Fr spelling, and girlond TNK 5 3 130 is in imitation of Fr 
gmrlande More remarkable are tWargaman H 22472 (Q) for Hyr- 
caman, spelled thhrcanian (Q2), and Arcadia 3H6 i 4 155 (Q) for 
Hyrcama, whose ar should perhaps be interpreted as an unsuccessful at- 

a short vowel in there, whet ^ (pp xxi, 72) , for such restressed forms m modern 
dialects see EDGr, Index 

2 See Bullokar, pp 52 ff , and Gabnelson, ‘The Development of Early Modern 
i/r ( 4 * cons),” pp 68-114 Coote (1596) regarded durt, gurth for dirt, girth as 

3 Henslowe writes vergine and therti, and he has, besides, ferste, ceartell, geardell, 
gerdell, scertes, sceartes, sheartes, stear, which, however, go back to ME e <[ OE y 



tempt to spell the unstressed [or] For whirl'd R3 44105, {w)hurhng 
H I 5 133 (F, Q2 , wherlmg Q),whtirle J 3 i 330, wherle TA 5 2 49 (Q) 
see wJml and hurl m OED and cf Bullokar, p 52 Surra LLL i i 312 
(Q) may indicate a variant with [a], apparently used by Hodges (1643), 
who lists sirrah and Surrey as homonyms, some early grammarians 
report the use of [as] in this word ^ 

A number of traditional rhymes present certain phonological difficulties 
without telling us very much about Shakespeare's pronunciation They 
are adjourned performed turned, coarse (corpse) nurse, reworded 
accorded, word afford (5x), board (2x), jord (2x), lord (i5x), sword 
(8x), record, and worth forth (8x) ® Both corpse and perform appear to 
have had ME doublets with w,® which would explain the origin of the 
rhymes in question, but it is problematical if such variants still existed 
in Shakespeare's time In word afford, ford, etc , as well as in the dialectal 
pun wards-^vords, we are almost forced to reckon with a still current 
variant of word with [0 ] derived from a ME doublet with 0, or [0 ] 
(perhaps [o ] ) regularly developed from ME or as in ford Forth had 
a late ME doublet with ur, which explains the rhyme worth forth ^ The 
pun course-curse presupposes a variant of course with u, probably re- 
flected m the 14th-century spelling curs (OED) 

The spellings of ME ^r offer very little of interest Birthen RJ i 4 23 
(Q2) and firzes T 4 i 180 go back to ME doublets with i It is difficult 
to say what sound ur actually stood for in Burdeaux 1H6 421, curtezans 
2H6 I I 223, curteous R J 2 4 60, Pur-quoy TN i 3 95, turnaments TGV 
I 3 30, but [3 j] here seems plausible, except in pur-quoy W or ell H5 
3 6 II, 4 I 67 and varld MWW i 4 66 are respectively a Welshman's and 
a Frenchman's pronunciation of world , in the latter case ar was perhaps 
meant to indicate the vowel [a ] The common 16th-century 00 in woorth 
C 2 i 96, woorthy Cy i 4 3 may merely indicate a lengthened vowel as sug- 
gested by Wyld (p 256) But accust M 4 3 107 is of greater value phono- 
logically If not a misprint, it reveals the loss of r before j and the reten- 
tion of the short vowel as in the modern vulgarisms cuss, bust Forms like 
nus, pus, thusty, Usly were apparently permissible in the early part of the 
i8th century (Wyld, p 299), and one would therefore be entitled to as- 
sume that they were current colloquially also in Shakespeare's time 

4 See Mather Flint, p 127 

5 The same rhymes occur m Spenser, see Rime, §§164 ff, 288 ff For a compre 
hensive discussion of the problems mvolved see Flasdieck, pp 113-264, 321-420 

6 Flasdieck, pp 388 ff 

7 Ibid, pp 24pf 


Most reconstructions of earlier stages of English pronunciation share 
the peculiarity of making little or no distinction between the vowels of 
stressed and of unstressed syllables Thus Wyld transcribes every final, 
pronounced -e m Chaucer as [e], including the e of the endings -ed, -en, 
-eSy and unstressed particles like the, of, and, have as [e], [o], and [a], 
respectively ^ Vietor (p 8 ) shows the same horror of [a] by constantly 
writing [t 5 e], [se], [send], [ov], [sudsein], [onor], etc, for the, a, and, 
of, sudden, honor, etc , in a note to his key of phonetic symbols he half- 
heartedly admits, however, that ‘‘all the vowels, when unstressed, are 
more or less obscured, verging on [9] (which is now used for a in about, 
0 in bishop, &c) '' 2 Except for his brief chapter on “Stress and Rhythm,"’ 
he has little else to say about the quality of Shakespeare’s unstressed 

This unrealistic attitude toward the speech of a few centuries ago 
apparently stems from the mistaken notion that the regular use of [9] 
and [i] in almost any kind of unstressed syllable today is fairly recent 
Yet we need only recall the disintegration of the inflectional endings in 
late OE, the syncopation of medial syllables in ME, and the disappear- 
ance in the 15th century of final, unstressed e, which must have become 
[9] long before, in order to understand that the reduction of unstressed 
vowels to [9] and their complete elimination under certain conditions are 
two interdependent processes of change that have characterized the Eng- 
lish language throughout the whole course of its development The pho- 
netic spellings in private documents from the 15th century onward and 
the mutations that English place-names have often undergone in ME and 
eNE times reveal that this well-evidenced trend of the language toward 
monosyllabism went on unchecked Wyld’s treatment of Chaucer’s un- 
stressed e is therefore incomprehensible, the more so since elsewhere 
he takes considerable pains to outline the history of unstressed vowels 

1 In English Pronunciation through the Centuries (pamphlet accompanying 
gramophone records issued by the Lmguaphone Institute), pp 16 ff 

2 Clearly Vietor is responsible for such absurdities as [hseqged], [kulcrz], 
[senswer], [mserise d3] for hanged, colors, answer, marriage, in Blandford’s tran- 
scnption of TN 15, for which see p 50, above 




in eNE, adducing valuable evidence for their reduction to [3] and [i] 
at a very early date (pp 258-82) 

The vacillation we have observed in Shakespeare’s treatment of the 
stressed vowels and diphthongs is equally characteristic of his unstressed 
vowels Shakespeare clearly favored the colloquial pronunciation of the 
day, with its often radically reduced forms, but he made it subservient to 
his prosodic needs , thus a word like temperate might be either disyllabic, 
template, or trisyllabic, and under metrical stress its final syllable might 
rhyme with date In like manner the verbal ending -ed was pronounced 
[t] or [d], [id] or [od], as well as [^d] in rhyme Sometimes the quality 
of the unstressed vowel is revealed by the spelling, as in accumilate, or is 
to be inferred from puns and rhymes, as in mount ain-niounUngy budget 
avouch %t, but just as often it needs to be established by external evidence, 
eg, by spellings in contemporary documents Syncopation is at times 
shown by an apostrophe, as in desperate, or again by the omission of the 
syncopated vowel without an apostrophe, as in desprafe But mostly we 
have only the scansion of the line to guide us in deciding whether a 
polysyllabic word was syncopated or not As a rule the shorter forms are 
contemporary colloquialisms, whereas the longer forms, e g , resolutions 
of the suffixes -ston, -Hon, -tage, are mostly metrical makeshifts that would 
scarcely ever have been heard m the spoken language except possibly 
from pedants who were trying to adapt their pronunciation to the written 

Since the vacillation between the extremes colloquialism and spelling- 
pronunciation is a salient feature of Shakespeare’s prosody, part of this 
chapter will be devoted to the various reductions that a word may undergo 
in Shakespeare’s language, such as aphaeresis, apocope, syncope, and 
other forms of elision and contraction First of all, however, the pro- 
nunciation of the unstressed vowels will be studied with particular refer- 
ence both to the distribution of [9] and [i] and to the effect of the metrical 
stress upon these normally unstressed vowels A final section will deal 
with the addition of vowels (anapt3rxis), including resolutions of the 
kind mentioned above 

The Use of [^] and [i] 

On the whole, the distribution of [9] and [i] in Shakespeare’s pro- 
nunciation seems to agree with modern St E usage, with due allowance 
for deviations caused by metrical restressing and by various kinds of 
elision, syncopation, etc In not a few cases, however, present-day usage 
has abandoned the greatly reduced forms of Elizabethan English for 

UNSTRESSED [9] AND [l] 25/ 

pronunciations more or less adjusted to the conventional spelling The 
best example of this refashioning of a formerly acceptable type of pro- 
nunciation is the treatment of -ure m nature^ censure^ etc 

In a pretonic position unstressed e usually became [i] , as indicated by 
such spellings as dtscent (descent) TGV 3232, dispised RJ 3277, 
dispiUous (despitous) J 4 i 34, imhost TS pr i 17, inchant T ep 14, m- 
jorced JC 4 3 112, tnfranchise AC i i 23, LLL 3 i 121 (here with a jingle 
on one Franas and therefore perhaps pronounced with [on] despite the 
spelling), ingross' d MWW 22203, insconce CE 2238, inshrme 1H6 
3 2119, mhce PP 2044, eipidition 1H6 4432, curtisans R3 3774, 
Limander (Leander) MND 5 i 199, etc , and inoiigh R J i 3 49, etc , 
Vwis P 2pr 2, both with OE ge- , devide H i i 76 (Q2), indevidible 
H 22417 (Q2), delated H i 2 38 (Q2), emures (immures) TC pr8, 
and pediculous T 2 2 169 are clearly inverted spellings, whereas Peren- 
nean J i i 203 shows the lowering oh > e (here under secondary stress) 
as in fully stressed syllables But note a leaven (eleven) H i 2252 (Q2), 
a levenpence LLL 3 i 172, where a points to [o] If there is a pun mistake- 
must take, this would imply the use of [0] in mis- and unstressed must 
Other unstressed vowels like a and 0 were probably pronounced [o], as 
the occasional use of one letter for the other indicates, e g , in occrue H5 
21 117 (Qi, 3) and the jingle allusion-collusion , note, however, Leartes 
H 1242 (Q, regularly), Medera (Madeira) 1H4 12128 (Q), and 
Palentine (Palatine) MV 1249 Unpossible R2 22125, th'unsatiate 
^3 3 7 7 > 3.nd unviolable R3 2 i 27 (Q) are instances of the change of 

Post-tonic medial vowels vary a great deal, but there is a tendency for 
a to become [i] as m Semenmis TA 2 i 22, supremicte TS 5 2 109, stilli- 
torie VA 443 This is true also of e in epithiton LLL i 2 15 (F2, but 
opathaton F, apethaton Q), batcMer TA i i 487 (Q), benifited L 4 2 45 
(Q), pemtrable H 3 426 (Q2), planitary L12136 (Q), Pentycost RJ 
I 5 38, Plantaginet 1H6 i 4 95, J 1 1 9, president (precedent) T 2 i 291, 
mailable P 46152, camelion TGV 2426, but mountibank H 47142 
(Q2) may preserve the original i {<i montimbanco) , while alcumy, 
alcumie (alchemy) S 33 4, 1 14 4 reflect an earlier variant alcamie (OED) 
Note elament H 47 182 (Q2), probably with medial [9], unless an e-a 
mispnnt For unstressed i we find ^ ( [9] or [i] ) in mutenous T 5 i 42 and 
after the initial secondary stress in epeliptick L 2 2 87 (Q) , for unstressed 
o mostly a but also i, e, and u as in annot{h)amise LLL 4 i 69, RL 1450 
(anotimized Q6), anchaves (anchovies) 1H4 24587 (Q), daffadillies 
TNK 4173, daffadils WT 431, refractune TC 22182, rapsidie H 
3 4 48 (rapsedy Q2), compnmise J S i 67, compremise MWW i i 34 (a 



common early spelling, OED), gondilo MV 288, and between secondary 
and primary stress in carbinado C 45 suffication MWW 3 5 119 
(Q) , with recomfiture R3 44425 (Qq, recomforture F) we may com- 
pare Hey wood’s play on colloquial comfit < comfort and comfit (OED) 
Canapie RJ 5 3 13 (Q2) goes back to canape Original 0 appears as e in 
JVestmerland 1H4 i i 31, etc , and w as a in marmoset T 2 2 174 and as e 
in colemhnes H 45180 (Q2) ME eu became [i] in accumtlate O 
33370 (Q), S 117 10, dirntniUve^s) AC 4 1237, ^ 4 ^ opilent L 
I I 88, orgxllous TC pr 2, the rhyme argument hardiment points to the 
same [i] in argument as in dialectal argy, arging for argue, argmng (both 
reported from Wa, according to EDD) 

Final, unstressed a appears as y in taffety AW 2 2 24, the common 
form from the 15th century on (OED) , cf vulgar and dialectal extry, 
Sary, etc ® The same [i] maybe postulated in Ursley (Ursula) MA 314 
(Q) and in sesey (sessa) L 3 4 104, spelled caese (Q) and sese L 3 6 77 , 
cf Cisley (Sicily) CE 3131 and alhes (alleys) H i 5 67 (Q2) In Lethee 
JC 3 I 206 and trophees JC i i 74, etc , the final vowel is either [1 ] or 
[i] , the latter sound was doubtless used in e^tempory 1H4 24309 
and very likely also in Thtsbe, rhyming with secretly and spelled 
Thisbie MND i 2 13, 54, 51 160, MV 517 The interchange of a and 
0 in Ryolta (Rialto) MV i 3 20 and gondilo MV 288 suggests [a] as 
the final vowel of both , similarly 0 m stanso AYL 2 5 19 For the pro- 
nunciation of names like etc , see p 174, above Hortensio, 

Mercutw, Romeo, etc , rhyming with so, ozve, woe, clearly had final [0 ] 
The pronunciation of -y m cruelty, flattery, etc , and of 4 y m merrily, 
suddenly, etc , has been dealt with on pp 219 f , above Sinow 3H6 2 6 91, 
synowie AYL 2 2 14 are earlier variants of sinew{y), for which see OED 
Fichooke TC5i 66(Q) looks like a blend of fitchew (F) and fit chock 
Veneys MWW i 1296, spelled v ernes (Q), represents the colloquial 
form with final [i] of venue, written venewe LLL 5 i 62, cf whinid'st 
(finewed’st) TC 2 i 15, as well as now dialectal and vulgar valy for value, 
which must be as old as veny and may well have been used by Shake- 
speare ^ 

In final unstressed syllables ending in a consonant (sometimes two 
consonants) the preference for [o] or [i] depends to some extent on the 
nature of the syllable itself, that is to say, on the quality of the vowel 
and its consonantal environment, a back vowel tends to become [9], 

3 Matthews, Cockney Past and Present, p 184, Krapp, 2, 250 f 

4 The earliest example of veny m OED dates from 1578 Wyld, p 277, cites an 
instance of valy from 1642, which is one year earlier than Hodges* equation of vol- 
ley, valley, and value 


particularly if followed by /, r, or a nasal Thus we find 0, which very 
likely stands for [9], in 5 Alhons 2H6 i 2 57, ArcJnbold 1H4 i i S3 (Q), 
Falstoffe, Falstoffs MWW SD, i i 3, off oil MWW 3 5 6 (Q), quandom 
(quondam) H5 2182 (Qi~3), berod (bear-herd) 2H4 i 2 192 (Q), 
berrord MA 2 i 43 (also berard 2H6 5 i 149), and fillop (fillip) C 5 3 59, 
but t (= [i]) in ventmd VA 916, e (= [9]) in dungell (dunghill) L 
3 7 97 (Q)> ^ (= [^] ) Coram (Quorum) MWW i i 6, Elyatam 

2H6 3 2 399 (Q), qmetas H 3 i 75 (Q2), unless these are u-a misprints, 
and Cots(h)all MWW i i 92, R2 2 39 (Q, Cottshold F) Perfit H5 
3 6 73, etc , corresponds to Chaucer’s parfit < OF pa? fit Philbtrts (fil- 
berts) T 22 175 shows the leveling of er and %r under [9j] The two 
Q spellings epiteeth and epttithe H 2 2 550, 3 2 144 for epitaph (F) sug- 
gest reduction of its a to [i] or confusion with epithet, spelled epithites 
O I I 14, etc 

The Pronunciation of Certain Common Suffixes 

In the preceding group belong, strictly speaking, a great many suffixes 
and other final syllables phonetically of a suffixal character Since the 
relevant material is often quite extensive and the treatment of a suffix is 
likely to involve phonological and prosodic problems of some importance, 
the best method of dealing with these syllables seems to be to take them 
individually or, where convenient, m groups of two or three, beginning 
with the basic terminals -el, -en, -er, -ed, -es, -est, -eth 


Several spellings imply a pronunciation [il], viz, cautills LC 303, 
fennill H 45 180 (Q2), levill AW 2 i 159, marvile H i 2 195 (Q2), 
modill H S 2 50 (Q2), mungnll L 2 2 24, TC 5 4 14, mertill (myrtle < 
OF mirtille) MM 22 117, revill 3H6 4 i 95 (Q), squirils MND 4 i 38 
(Q), squirnll TGV 4459, traviler H 3 i 80 (Q2), unkenml H 3286 
(Q2) , note the inverted spelling Sibell (Sibyl) TS i 270 Yet the more 
common type was probably [9I] or [ 1 ] as in baffuld R2 i i 170 (Q), 
jymold (gemel) Hs 4249, pensals (pencils) LLL 5243, and jemall 
AYL 4 3 87 , this must also have been used m tetrasyllable disabled S 66 8 
and other cases of the same kind (see p 263, below) Instead of [ 1 ] we 
find nonsyllabic [ 1 ] not only before a vowel as in couple <9/ TS 3 2 242, 
able *em L 46 172, dible in WT 44 100, humble ambition AW i i 185, 
mingle our P i 2 112, muZBle him H8 i i 121, noble a TA i i 440, trouble 
him TmA 5 i 216, whistle her O 3 3 262 but also before consonants as in 

26 o 


dandle thee 2H6 i 3 148, eagle were 2H6 3 i 248, trouble deaf S 29 3, 
whereas cases before a caesura, e g , battle R3 =5 3 scruple MV 
4 I 330, or at the end of a line, as m homsuckle MND 4 i 45, are am- 
biguous In shovels-tn WT 4 4 469 Shakespeare may have used a variant 
of shovel with silent v, still very common in dialects, including that of 
Wa Monosyllabic variants of evil and devil, with v and nonsyllabic /, 
may likewise have been heard besides the syncopated ehl, dehl discussed 
on pp 188 f , above 

•en, -on 

These two endings are sometimes confused in writing as in sien (scion) 
WT 4493, seyen O i 3337, sexten (sexton) H S i 177 (Q2, sireteen 
F, with a pun), talent (talon) 1H4 24363, brazon H i i 73 (Q2), 
Lenton H 22329, the usual pronunciation was probably [on] or [n], 
but [in] was also heard as in beckins H i 4 58 (Q2) , griffin MND 2 i 232, 
gudgin MV i i 102, Latme (latten) MWW i i 165, Mittelin (Myti- 
lene) P 4451 (see p 186, above) Note the puns reason-^ aistn(g), 
person-piercing, season-seizin, cousin-cozen, and talent-talon 

The p pies bollen, fallen, stolen, swollen, now normally disyllabic except 
before a vowel as in fallen in,^ appear to have been monosyllabic irre- 
spective of whether a vowel or consonant followed, as in boln RL 1417, 
falne AC 3 I3 44, 4 H 106, J 5 5 RJ 3 4 i, etc , befalne RL 1599, etc , 
crest- falne 2H6 4 1 59, and, in prose, chop falne H 5 i 212, stoln AC 
3 6 42, stolne AC 4 15 78, Cy 1 1 60, MND i i 32, etc , stollen MND 
3251, swolne T 2 I 117, big-swolne TA 3 i 224, high-swolne R3 2 2 117 
Other monosyllabic p pies like beaten out TS pr 2 87, chosen to 2H6 
I 4 59 , spoken a WT 5 i 21, mishapen knave T 5 i 268 should either be 
read beat, chose, spoke, misshaped, forms found elsewhere in Shake- 
speare (Franz, §168), or are to be pronounced with nonsyllabic n befoie 
a following vowel and perhaps also in misshapen, whose final n would then 
merge with the [n] or [nn] of knave For monosyllabic driven, given see 
p 327, below 

Like other contemporary poets, Shakespeare very often pronounced 
heaven, heavens as a single syllable and heavenly as two syllables, e g , in 
heav'n J S i 29, heavens AC 3 i 25, 3H6 3 3 77, heavenly H8 2 3 57, with 
exceptional indication of the syncopation of [0] Seven, too, is mono- 
syllabic in H 4 5 154, JC 3 I 286, MND i i 159, etc , and in the deriva- 
tives seventy AYL 2 3 71, TNK 5 i 87, seven-fold AC 4 14 38, TmA 

5 Wyld, p 402, Wyld has a very interesting discussion of Milton's practice on 
pp 401-6 



I I 289 , see further p 204, above, where the corresponding monosyllabic 
forms of even have already been dealt with Since r is a more sonorous 
sound than n, there is no valid reason for doubting the existence of a 
monosyllabic variant of barren in 2H6 243, TA 2 3 93 and of barons 
m 2H6 I I 8 ® But m christen it TA 4 2 70, sodaine and AYL 2 7 15 1 the 
initial vowel of the word following upon the suffix -en makes the n non- 
syllabic as in evening, reckoning, etc The occurrence of the I4th“isth- 
century doublets som{p)ne, siimne of summon (OED) may help to 
explain its monosyllabic form in summon you O 4 2 169, although the 
use of a consonantal cluster [mnj] in [sAmn-ju] would cause no more 
trouble than, e g , in calumniate, calumnious, pronounced with both [mni] 
and[mnj] It is impossible, however, to accept van Dam-Stoff el’s (p 107) 
apocopated [wim] for allegedly monosyllabic women in the rhyme in 
women H8 ep 9-10 This is clearly a masculme-femimne rhyme, which 
moreover occurs in a part of the play that Shakespeare apparently did not 
write ’’ Women JC 2 i 122 is probably disyllabic before the caesura 


This was generally pronounced [91], with a more or less weakened [j] 
(see p 315, below) So were -ar, -o(u)r, which had coalesced with -er 
as indicated by the spellings batcheller R3 i 3 loi, begger(s) RL 216, 
71 1, 985, caterpillers VA 798, conquerors VA 549, harber RL 768, 
hcker (liquor) MWW 2 i 197 (Q), lechors RL 1637, httour T i 2 282, 
offenders RL 612, S 42 5, parhculor WT i 2 425, etc , pestur H i 222 
(Q2), by the rhymes tenner (ttnor) , publisher orator, ravisher 
conspirator, zvell-wiUer pillar, and by the puns choler-coUar-color, man- 
ner-manor, suitor-shooter Under metrical stress -er was often pro- 
nounced [8( )j] as in character everywhere, harbinger there, mes- 
senger fair, Jupiter ne'er, murderer appear, etc, but no doubt also 
[o( )j[] as in messenger her, stir, it is impossible to say which of these 
two pronunciations was used in nonrhyming grasshoppers R J i 4 60, 
coach-makers RJ i 4 69 In the same situation -or seems to have been 

6 This line is interesting because it contains two instances of nonsyllabic n {seven, 
barons) and one case of syncopation (reverend) ‘‘Seven Earles, twelve Barons, & 
twenty reverend Bishops ” But barons may, of course, have been disyllabic here before 
the caesura 

7 It IS almost certainly the work of John Fletcher Masculine feminine rhymes, 
which are very common with Peek, occur also in Beaumont and Fletchers The 
Knight of the Burning Pestle 2 i 64-5 request Forest, 3 i 68-9 women men, and 
in The Matd*s Tragedy 12, The Masque, 51-2 glory memory Shakespeare has very 
few rhymes of this sort , see p 34, above 



pronounced both [o( )i] or [o( )j] as m governor before, Moor and 
[o( )j] as in conspirator ramsher, etc 
Nonsyllabic [r] was sometimes used instead of [oj] in cases like 
brother in law 1H4 i 3 80, father-in-law H8 3 2 8, R3 i 4 49, 5 3 82, 
with monosyllabic pronunciation of brother, father , see further p 322, 
below, where the intricate problem of monosyllabic (n) either, hither, 
brother, father, etc , has been dealt with at some length The same syn- 
copation of [o] in -er is extremely common in p t and p pie forms like 
rememhred, wondred and in pr pies like conquering, diffnng, as well as in 
the suffixes -ary, -ery, '0{u)ryy -ury, to be discussed below 


After voiceless consonants this ending was pronounced [t], sometimes 
spelled ^ or rf as in hist (hissed) R J i i 119, stockt L 2 4191, guesd 
(guessed) TGV 5 2 39, walk'd 2H4 i i 4, but after voiced consonants 
and vowels it was [d] as in illumind VA 486, praisde RL 79, compet'd 
H8 2 3 87, bestow'd H 2 2 546, etc The full pronunciation, either [od] or 
[id], was used after t and d, as m ended, wanted, frequently after con- 
sonants + r, n, or I (see below), and instead of [t] or [d] when the meter 
so required as in plunged JC i 2 105, renowned MND i i 20 The form 
[id], now characteristic of StE, goes back to late ME times, when 
Chaucer, e g , reveals it by rhyming confoundid woundid wounde hid 
(MLT 100-3) ® Shakespeare, too, indicates it by the spellings cur died 
(curded) C 5 3 66, out-craftied Cy 3 4 15,® plattid LC 8, sundned R3 
5 3 loi (Q1-2) , cf Lethied (Lethe’d) AC 2 i 27, and the inverted forms 
horred L 3 2 46 (Q), over-cannoped MND 2 i 251 (over-cannopi'd Q), 
and sickled H 3 i 85 (Q2 , sic kited F) Brooded J 3 3 52 is therefore best 
explained as a printer’s misinterpretation of an original hroodied or 
broodeyd meaning broad-eyed 

When -ed was added to verbs ending m -le, -en (-on), and -er, preceded 
by a consonant, as in dabbled, lengthened, flattered, two pronunciations 
were apparently possible in Shakespeare’s time, one with [ol], [on] (or 
[I n] ), [oj] plus d as in modern St E , the other with nonsyllabic [1, n, r] 
plus [id] or [od] Spellings like baffuld R2 i 1 170 (Q), dabbel'd R3 
1454, exampl'd Hs 12156, grissl'd H 12240 (Q2), lengthen'd R3 
I 4 43, lessond R3 i 4 245, opend VA 1051, batterd RL 723, betterd VA 
78, fester'd R2 ^5 3 85, murther'd R3 5 3 205, render'd 2H4 i i 27, smoth- 

8 For illuminating early material see Wyld, pp 267 f 

9 This IS clearly a phonetic spelling of outcrafted and not the p pie of an otherwise 
unrecorded vb out-crafty (so given in OED, with some hesitation) 



erd RL 1418, etc , point to the former pronunciation, then probably the 
colloquial variant, whereas forms like bedabbled MND 3 2 443, mohled 
H 2 2 525, troubled CE 3 i 62, etc , are ambiguous ^ On the other hand, 
the syncopation of medial e before -ned, ^red is so common that it must 
imply something different from lessond, betterd, that is, [nid], [rid] or 
[n^d], [rsd] This assumption is corroborated, I think, by such tri- 
syllabic forms stressed on the first and third syllables as numstred AYL 
2 7 126, Cy I I 45» RJ 4 3 25, T 4 i 17, sequestred TA 2 3 75, and the 
above sundned ^ It is further supported by the corresponding syncopa- 
tion of participles like opmng, suffering and inflected forms like remem- 
brest, entreth Indeed, the syncopated variants in -7ied, -red are so nu- 
merous that only a selection can be cited here 

Chnstned R3 i i 50, darkned C 4 7 5, fasfned TA 5 3 183, hapned 
TmA 3 2 52, hardned WT 3 2 53, harkned 1H4 5 452 (Q), lengthened 
R3 13208, lesned RJ 1247, 3H6 5220, motstned RL 1227, 

poysned H 4 i 43, shortned C i 2 23, softned R J 3 i 120, strengthned 
S 102 I, threatned MND 3 2 312, weakened 2H4 i i 144 

Alfred 1H4 3 i 116 (Q), battred VA 104, cankred J 2 i 194, checkred 
VA 1168, distempered TC 22 169, encountred H i 2 199, engendred JC 
5 3 entred 2H4 2 i i, fettred H5 i 2243, RL 296, gartred 

TS 3269, maitred (martyred) TA 3 i 81, mastred LLL i i 153, mur- 
dred VA 502, numbred TN 5 i 252, offred TS 2 i 383, pestred TC S i 38, 
registred M i 3 151, remembred S 29 13, rendred AC 4 1433, sceptred 
K -3 3 7 slaughtered H5 48 79, squandred MV i 3 22, sugred TmA 

4 3 259, tempered H 5 2 339, wandred CE 223, wintred AYL 3 2 in, 
wondred 1H4 3 2 47 

Occasionally there is neither syncopation of the medial vowel nor re- 
duction of -ed to d owing to metrical requirements , thus, irrespective of 
the spelling, the following words are trisyllabic conquered 1H6 i i 16, 
daeeVd TGV 2 4210, entred 1H6 i 2 132, honored 1H6 2 3 81, humbled 
O 3352, laboured 1H6 2580, rendered JC 327, 10, shortned 1H6 

5 4 58, uttered J 5 7 56, while the following are tetrasyllable considered 
^3 3 7 176, disabled S 66 8, discovered 1H6 4 3 6, JC 3 i 17, dishonored 
RL 1185 (but dishonord RL 1186), impanelled S 469, enameled CE 
2 i 109, encountred 1H6 4618, enfeebled 1H6 1469, recovered 1H6 
332, redoubled R2 i 3 80, remembred Hs 4 3 59, S 74 12, unmmgled 
TC I 3 30 

1 Wyld, p 407, interprets Spenser^s trembled^ handled^ etc , as having [id] , he 
might have added that in his respellings of Spenserian stanzas Gill (1621) writes 
mumbled, trubled (pp 107, 105) 

2 Unless sundned is an error for sundtred, the reading of Q3-4> which may equally 
well be an error or a correction of the former , the F has sundred 



In all these examples -ed acquires a secondary, metrical stress and 
may therefore have been pronounced [§d], as in rhymes like astomshed 
dead, discovered led, bed maiden-widowed, uttered dead , for other in- 
stances see bedt bred, dead, head, red, shed, spread in Rhyme Index Simi- 
larly in bamshed RJ 3 3 19 (with bamsht in the same line murdered 
banished RJ 3 3 6^7, vanquished TGV i i 35, etc , and, despite the 
spelling, m trisyllabic banish'd TGV 3 i 221, sinew'd J S 7 88 ^ 

On the other hand, monosyllabic fitted TS pr i 87 and disyllabic 
avoided 1H4 5 5 13, englutted H5 4 3 83 seem to have been pronounced 
without the ending -ed , we may compare the p pies acquit MWW i 3 27, 
quit T I 2 148, wedde CE i i 36, etc , by the side of acquitted MV 5 i 138, 
quitted WT 5 i 192, wedded AW 3 2 23, and the rhyme hate created RJ 
I I 183-4, with created to be read create as in create fortunate and in 
J 4 I 107 * Trisyllabic discomfited TS 2 1 164 should perhaps be read dis~ 
comfit, the earlier pple that survived until the end of the i6th century 
(OED), and similarly dishabited J 2 i 220 and visited TN 5 i 350 ® In 
disyllabic merited Cy 5 5 304, pelleted AC 3 13 165, riveted AC 4422, 
MV 5 I 169 the medial syllable may instead have been syncopated ® 


When unelided, this ending was clearly [iz] , a pronunciation used, e g , 
by Chaucer, to judge from his rhymes werkis derk is, swevenys sweven 
IS, sonis wone is, etc ^ Shakespeare has Mars his (Mars’s) sword S 55 7, 
Marsis TNK i i 62, i 2 20, 51 80, Cearies (Ceres) 2H6 122 (Q), 
Volcies (Volsces) C i i 228, i 3 107, and the inverted spellings enimes 
(enemies) S 285, anchaves (anchovies) 1H4 24587 (Q), daises H 
47171 (Q2),as well as the rh3me posies roses and the pun Lacies- 
laces, for Countes (County’s) TN i 5 320 see p 265, below Note also 
the genitival forms asses MND 32 17, bushes AYL 43 114, Dysses 
(Dis’s) WT 44 118, Judasses AYL 349, Marses T 41 98, wretches 
2H6 3 3 22, S 74 II Contrary to modern usage, however, an obsolescent 
[iz] could be used after sounds other than sibilants, as in Saint Colmes 

3 The same erroneous use of the apostrophe is found m nbb^d and paVd Cy 3 1 19, 
curs'd T I 2 339, promts* d MM 5 1 219, ransom* d 1H6 i 4.29, disguis'd J 4 i 127 

4 Cf Franz, §159, also Abbott, §342 

5 Syncopation of i could, alternatively, have taken place in dishabited and visited, 
or again both might have had their full pronunciation, dishabited before the caesura 
and visited if the following by the are contracted to hy'th , note, however, that visit 
was used as a pt and pple during the 14th and 15th centuries (OED) 

6 Pope preferred to omit so before riveted in MV 5 1 169, which would improve 
the rhythm of the line , in that case riveted would be trisyllabic 

7 For other examples see ten Brink, §325 



ynch M I 2 61, Earths increase T 4 i no, Jewes eye MV 2 5 43, months 
minde TGV i 2 137, moons sphere MND 217, mghts shade MND 

4 I Q 9 (Q > nights F) ropes end CE 4 i 98, whales bone LLL 5 2 332, 
and be Gods sonhes ® MV 2 2 47 , similarly in singes LLL 4 2 122 (Q , 
sings F) and, if we accept the F reading, in dayes 3H6 2 5 38, roes LLL 

5 2 309 j perhaps also m shoppes TmA 4 3 450, but hardly in comes R2 
2 3 67, for the missing half-foot here can be supplied by a pause at the 
caesura In Truth* s would be tales AC 2 2 136 Truth* s might well be disyl- 
labic, but the very same spelling appears to be monosyllabic in the next 
line For trisyllabic Vulcans TA 2 i 89 later Folios read Vulcanus 

The variant [^z], said to be characteristic of the western dialects, 
seems to be used in the rhyme palaces us On the other hand, the ending 
'-es of names like AntipodeSj Pericles, Polixenes, today [iz], was then 
z], rhyming with displease, seas, confess, oppress Certes could be both 
monosyllabic (H8 i i 48) and disyllabic (T 3 3 30) , see OED 

Clarence death R3 2 i 136, my horse heeles 2H6 4 3 14, Lawrence Cell 
RJ 2 4 193, his Mistns name RJ 2 i 28 are typical instances of the unin- 
flected genitive of words in s Horses 1H4 4 3 21 (Q) for horse seems to 
be an inverted form, and so, perhaps, are monosyllabic targes AC 2 6 39, 
Cy 5 5 S, disyllabic novices TS 2 i 313, practises 2H6 3 1 46, services 
C 2 3 231, TmA I I 55, WT 2 i 17, 533, and trisyllabic conveyances 


Queen Elizabeth appears to ha^e pronounced this ending [ist], for she 
writes largist, fullist, hottist ® For all we know, Shakespeare may have 
done the same when he used the unehded form of the ending, as in bittrest 
RJ I 5 94 (Q2), WT 3 2 217, youngest, eldest CE i i 124, and further 
in offrest TS 2 i 382, remembrest AYL 2 4 33, MND 2 i 148, threatnest 
MV 3 2 105, thundrest TA 2 i 58 , also, despite the spelling, in cam*st T 
I 2 332 Very often, however, the vowel of the suffix is omitted, in which 
case the elision is usually indicated by an apostrophe as in ancient* st WT 
4 I 10, blackest TGV 3 i 285, boldest WT 2 i 94, civeVst 2H6 4 7 66, 
coldest L I I 257, deer* St TC i 3 337, dyPst R3 5 3 198, eldest T 5 i 186, 

8 This IS the plural of sant, an earlier variant of saint, from Lat sanctus, as con- 

vincingly explained by Donaldson, p 228 Dekker’s God s-santy is clearly a backforma- 
tion of the disyllabic pi santes and should not be derived from a n santy as sug- 
gested in OED Similarly county (count), spelled Countie RJ 1 3 is prob- 

ably a backformation of the gen [ksuntiz] as in Counties RJ 5 3 279j Countes TN 
I S 320, and the identical plural 

9 Wyld, p 270 , also p 261 



finest TC 13338, fifst Cy 42285, TNK i i 169, fouVst AC 4638, 
greatest AW i 3 249, etc , kindest M 2 i 24, lowd'st TC 4 5 143, WT 
2 2 39, loyalVst Cy I I 96, neer'st WT 3 2 54, perfect' st M i 5 2, pleasant' st 
MA 3 I 26, proud' St TA 4426, qutck'st AW 5 3 40, Cy S 5 160, 
rud'st Cy 42 174, S 113 9, secret' st M 3 4 126, sharp' st S 115 7 > short' st 
R2 5 I 80, strict' st LLL i i 117, strong' st R2 3 3 201, sweet' st Cy 5 5 349, 
S 1334, etc, unpleasant' st MV 32251, violent' st C 4673, whit'st H8 
I 1 209, wretched' st R3 2 4 18, sometimes there is no apostrophe as in 
covertst R3 3 5 33, deformedst S 113 10, jrailst AYL 3 5 12, widst T 

1 I 63, wojulst 2H6 3 2 409 , at other times the ending is written m full 
but should be elided in reading, as in dearest WT i 2 88, deepest TGV 
5471, eldest J I I 159, fairest WT 5 i 87, etc, nearest 1H4 32 123, 
safest O 3 I 52 (Q), severest R J 5 3 269, soveraignest 1H4 i 3 57, sweet- 
est P 4434, yongest Cy i i 48, TNK 5 i 57, similarly bleedesf 1H4 
542, whereas deer'st WT 4 4 40 should be read as a disyllabic, [di Jist] ^ 
Forrest AYL i 3 109 may also have been monosyllabic For the treat- 
ment of verbal forms m -est see p 303, below, and for -liest p 288 


This ending, too, may have been pronounced with [i] , cf Wyld, pp 
261, 268 f Note entreth LLL 4321 (prose), disyllabic uttereth TS 

2 I 177, and tetrasyllable resemhleth TGV i 3 84 

Most of the remaining sufSxal syllables can be dealt with rather sum- 
marily Their pronunciation will generally appear from the material ad- 
duced in illustration of each syllable or group of syllables 

-able, -ible 

These were probably pronounced alike, as [obi] or [ibl] , note the 
spellings horrable H i 4 72 (Q2), mdevidible H 2 2 417 (Q2), mscrutible 
TGV 2 I 141, tenible H i 2 248 (Q , tenable Q2 , treble F) and the rhyme 
commendable vendible Particularly when followed by a vowel, their 
-le may have been nonsyllabic ^ as m capable of T i 2 353, affable and 
1H4 3 I 168, invisible as T 51 97, miserable, unhappy TGV 5 4 28, 1 ea- 
sonable affayres WT 4 4 409, tenable inlA 12 248 (Q2), untyreable and 
TmA 1 1 II , It IS hard to tell whether it was so, too, before a caesura as in 
invulnerable T 3 3 66, invisible J 5 7 16, incompareable H8 i i 27 (tri- 

I According to Scholl, p 444, 17th-century lutanists appear to have syncopated 
the vowel of the verbal ending -est but usually not that of the adjectival suffix This 
IS completely at variance with Shakespeare^s practice as reported above On the 
whole, the lutanist material is of shght phonological value 


syllabic), honourable TGV 3 i 64, WT i 2408, and before a consonant 
as in invxsible AC 2 2 217* miserable 2H6 3 i 201, visible L 4 2 46 (Q) In 
disyllabic terrible Cy 3 i 27, T i 2264, terribly T 2 i 313, the i may 
instead have been syncopated as in dialectal terble, terr'ble, tarble, turble 
(EDD) , the last two forms show that the syncopation must have been 
so early as to make -erb- share the normal development to -arb-, -urb - , 
cf parlous < perilous In trisyllabic honourably JC 5 5 79, rhyming with 
he, and H8 4 2 19, medial ou [o] was syncopated Depending on how we 
wish to scan the line, the rhyme invisible steeple either is a masculine- 
feminine one, with 4 e of invisible pronounced [^1] , or employs a variant of 
invisible stressed , in that case the preceding inscrutible should be 

pronounced with nonsyllabic I ^ 

-ace, -as, -ess 

Spellings like pinnice (pinnace) MWW i 3 89 (Q), ufis (outas) 2H4 
2 4 21, buttnce M i 6 7, matris AC 2 6 71, mistns T 4 i 235, votarisse 
P 4pr4 (though rhyming with Ephesus) point to [is] as the colloquial 
pronunciation by the side of [as], which may have been intended in the 
P rhyme despite the spelling, from P comes likewise the rhyme happi- 
ness prosperous, implying [nas] for -ness, whereas purposes happiness 
(MM) rather suggests [nis] Note the common spelling Colhce (Calais) 
J 3 3 73, R2 i I 126, etc Prowesse M 5 8 41 appears to be monosyllabic, 
cf the 16th-century spellings prosse, prows e cited in OED 

-age, -ege 

The spellings cabidge MWW i 1124, sellerige (Qi~2), selleredge 
(cellarage F) H 15151 reveal that in colloquial speech -age and -ege 
had coalesced under [id3] , porrage CE 2 2 100, however, is the older 
form < Fr potage In rhyme -age was pronounced either [^ d3] or 
[^d3] as in embassage page, pilgrimage sedge, while privilege, rhyming 
with edge, had [^d3] The unstressed [i] was probably used also in orenge 
MA 4 i 33 

-al, -ail, -ol 

The common pronunciation was doubtless [al] or [ 1 ] as shown by the 
spelling medull WT i 2 307 and by the pun capitol-capital , note further 
scandell H 2 i 29 (Q2), wassell (wassail) H i 49 (Q2), M i 7 64, etc , 

2 For possible parallels see Danielson, pp 333, 5^4 1 Milton uses the same double 
stress in PL 7 122 Things not reveal'd which th* invisible King 



and curtail (curtail) Cy 2 i 12, for which see OED In rhyme -al was 
presumably pronounced like fully stressed -all, that is, [ol], eg, in 
general jail, perpetual thrall, but m feshvals holy-ales it may instead 
have been [fl] like metrically stressed -el in parallel well Judging from 
the pun traveller-travailer, no diffeience in pronunciation was made be- 
tween travail and travel 

-an, -am 

These were probably [an] or [n] and [in], the latter variant appearing 
in chaphn 3H6 133 (Q), plantin (plantain) TNK i 2 61 (but plantan 
LLL 3 I 73), qumtine (quintain) AYL i 2 262, and for -tan in ruffin 
2H445 125 (Q),2H6 r I 188 (Q) , note particularly the puns 
mounting, rampant-ramping, couchant-couching, leman-lemon Here may 
also be mentioned disyllabic carrion RJ 3 5 157, which agrees with the 
OED spellings caren, caryn (i4th-i6th centunes), and the inverted spell- 
ing murnon (murram) MND 2 i 97, spelled murren T 3 2 88 But Chris- 
ten 1H4 248 (Q), H 5 I 32 (Q2) goes back to OE cristen In rhyme -an 
became [aen] as in Athenian man, Caliban man, Englishman can The 
same vowel [se] was no doubt used in -ance, -ant in such rhymes as 
arrogance France, predominant plant , otherwise spellings hke currence 
(currants) WT 4 3 40j radience L i i iii (Q), vigtlence L 234 (Q), 
etc , show the leveling of -ance, -ence and -ant, -ent 

-at, -ate, -et, -ot 

The vacillation between [at] and [it] is observable in the spellings 
epythit(h)e(s) LLL 428, 52 170, epithites O i i 14, loggits (loggats) 
H 5 I loi (Q2), musit (muset) VA 683, qmllites H 5 i 108 (Q2 , quillets 
F), charect (carat) CE 4 i 28. carrects (carracks) CE 32 140, duckets 
RJ 5 I 59 . Cy 3 i 31, Lancelet MV 235, varlot TC 5 i 18, agot 
(agate) 2H4 1 2 19, MA 3 r 65, in the rhyme budget avouch it, and in 
the puns caret-carrot, carracks-carrots ,-jeit in counterfeit, forfeit, surfeit 
often appears as -fet as in TmA 4 3 112, MV 126, TN i 1 2, etc For 
spicket MWW I 3 24 (Q) by the side of spigot see OED Disyllabic 
chariot AC 3 i 10, 4 12 35, 2H6 2 4 13, RJ i 4 67, VA 1192 shows con- 
fusion with the more or less synonymous charet, which itself became 
obsolete before the middle of the 17th century but “virtually survived as 
a pronunciation of chariot till the 19th century” (OED) , Cooper (1685) 
r^ards c/iaret and cAanot as variant spellings (p 76), while Jones (1701) 
directs 10 to be pronounced e in carrion, chariot, etc (p 45) The suffix 
-ate, sometimes spelled -at as in adulterat S 121 5, th’associats H 4 3 47 


(Q2), legal J 3 i 135, pallal TN 2 4 loi, rhymes with fully stressed -ale 
m lemperale dale, advocale hate, etc , and with metrically stressed -el 
in effeminate Juhel, its pronunciation was then probably [^t] or t] , 
cf Pomgarnet 1H4 2 4 41, the metathesized variant of pomegranate Note 
that Hecate is always disyllabic as in Heccats M 3 2 41, except in Hecate 
1H6 3 2 64 


This suffix, rhyming with 'em m freedom need 'em, was pronounced 
[dom] as today 


That this ending was pronounced [il] or [ 1 ] as in modern American 
English is obvious from the pun gentile-gentle as well as from the spell- 
ings agill R J 3 I 171 (Q), cammomill 1H4 2 4441 (Q), jertill H 5 2 87 
(Q2), TN 15274, etc, misprinted foretell AC 1239, scurrell TC 
I 3 148 (Q), servility) VA 392, 1161, sternll H 2 2311, etc, stirnll 
2H4 4 3 129, subtill 1H4 I 3 169, etc (for subtil-subtle see OED) 

-me, -lie, -we 

These have been discussed on p 219, above 


The pronunciation of this suffix has been dealt with on pp 313 f, 
below Here we shall consider only the elision of its z (or the use of non- 
syllabic n) when immediately preceded by another vowel, as in being, 
knowing, etc , see the list of such cases on pp 384 f This fusion of the 
two vowels (synaeresis) was a feature of the colloquial language, which 
could be used to advantage m verse Since monosyllabic being and know- 
ing were often pronounced [bi n] and [no n], it is not surprising to find 
being and been (though mostly pronounced [bin] ), knowing and known 
confused in been (being) P 2 3 82 and knowing (known) Cy i 6 97 ^ 
The same kind of confusion occurred in lacking (lackeying) AC i 4 46 
and wearing (wearying) AYL 2437, straying (strange) LLL 52772 
is most likely a compositor’s misinterpretation of a puzzling spelling 
straing(e) or strayng(e) We may compare Henslowe’s spellings fryng- 
pan (frying pan, 4x), Imge m (lying in), and waynge (weighing), as well 

3 Correctly interpreted by Kellner, p 139 Jespersen, Grammar, i, §9 812, points 
out that [bi n] “in one syllable for being may often be heard ” 



as cumng (currying), tarring (tarrying), which according to Jespersen ^ 
are frequently found m 17th- and 18th-century books The same fusion 
of the vowels took place in hamng, giving, which could be pronounced as 
monosyllables [h^ n] , [gi n ] after the loss of their v, as m having L 2 2 102, 
etc , giving C 5 6 53, 3H6 i 2 13 , note the interesting juxtaposition of 
seeing [si n] or [si q] and unseene [Ansi n] H 3 i 31 

-Sion, -tion 

These were pronounced [Jon] or [Jn] except when disyllabic as a 
result of metrical resolution, in which case they were either [sion], 
[sion] or [Jion], [Jinn] , see further p 293, below 

-uce, -ule, -ufe, -us 

In the first three suffixes w ( < ME eu) tended to be pronounced [i] or 

[0] as in modern St E lettuce, minute, which appear as lettice O i 3 325, 
minit MWW 2 2 329 (Q) , ® modell H5 2 pr 16 probably stands for module 
as suggested by some editors® With statuts H 51113 (Q2) compare 
statues (statutes) MA 3 3 84, discussed on p 293, below Fortune was 
probably pronounced with [in] or [on], as numerous early spellings 
attest (Wyld, pp 265, 277), but no evidence of this sort has been found 
m Shakespeare The ending likewise vacillated between [os] and [is], 
the latter being no doubt the extreme colloquial variant Faustasses 
(Faustuses) MWW 4571, Magnes 2H6 481, Sidnis (Cydnus) AC 
2 2 192, Ninnies MND 3 i 99 (spoken by Flute-Thisbe and corrected to 
Ninus by Quince) , and the rhyme morris chons (chorus) , cf Henslowe's 
spellings fostes, ffostose {FzMstus),Troyeles,senttandres (St Andrews) 
It is possible, therefore, that the two rhymes from P, votarisse Ephesus 
and happiness prosperous, were actually meant to be pronounced with 

[1] in -us, -ous, but see the discussion on p 267, above Conversely we 
find -us in tnsyllabic Marcellus (Marseilles) AW 4 5 85 (also Marcellce 

4 4 9 , cf marcella, a kind of cloth, OED), TS 2 i 377 Elision of [0] has 
occurred in disyllabic marvels (marvellous) H 2 i 3, in marvel's TC 
I 2 150, and perhaps in marvailes MND 312 (Q), 4 i 26 (Q), 2H4 

5 I 38 (Q), though here -es may stand ior -{0) us 

Here may also be cited p or pas (porpoise) P 2 i 26 and Turkic s (tur- 
quoise) MV 3 I 126 

4 §9812 One still often hears ['fraig^psen] for frying pan 

5 Matthew Prior rhymes contribute gibbet in “The Thief and the Cordelier” 
(about 1720) 

6 See, eg, Elittredge, p 639 




This ending was always pronounced [oj], unless syncopated to [r] , 
there is no trace of the modern spelling-pronunciation [tjs] ^ Our evi- 
dence consists of two rhymes, departure shorter and venture enter^ 
three puns, departure-dej)arter, jeatures-jaitors, pasture-pastor, and the 
following spellings center (centure) J 43155, centery (century) L 
446, lectors (lectures) AYL 3 2 366, ilUnurter'd 2H6 i 2 42, xUnurtur'd 
VA 134, pasfour (pasture) TmA 43 12, rounder (roundure) J 2 i 259, 
fenour MV 4 i 235, tenurs H 5 i 108 (Q2), tortermg TA 2 3 285, tor- 
tur'd R2 4 I 298, untutred 2H6 32213 (Q), tisery LC 40, S 6 5, venter 
(venture) AW 2 i 173, H5 i 2 192, MWW 5 5 (Q), venter' d L 3 4 157 
(Q), ventur'd 2H4 i 1 181, etc , wajter (wafture) JC 2 i 246, and con- 
versely, with -ure for original -er, -or, arture (artery) H 1482 (Q2, 
artire F), att endure (attainder) H8 2 i 41, colaturall H 45206 (Q2), 
scnmures (scrimeis) H 4 7101 (Q2), tenure (tenor) AYL 43 ii, Cy 
2 4 36, 2H4 4 I 9> JC 4 3 171, tuture (tutor) R2 4 i 166, valure (valor) 
R2 4 I 33 , syncopated forms are disyllabic torturing TNK 5 i 113, ven- 
tring RL 148, ventring tempring and tnsyllabic adventerous 1H4 i 3 191 
(Q) The same development took place in conster (construe) O 4 1 102 
(Q), TN 3 I 63, TS 3 I 30, consters RL 324, consture LLL 5 2 341, 
misconster(s,-d) AYL 12276, 1H6 2373, MV 22197, note the in- 
verted spelling impostrue (impostor) AW 21 158, in which -rue, how- 
ever, may be a misprint for -ure 

Weak Forms 

Below will be listed and discussed only those weak forms of various 
particles for which there is evidence (orthographic, metrical, etc ) in 
Shakespeare Several others were doubtless current, as will be tacitly 
assumed, on the strength of present-day usage, in the transcriptions on 
pp 343 if Contracted forms like I'm, he'll will be dealt with together 
immediately after the alphabetical survey 

and written aw H 3 1 1 (Q2), LLL 5 2 232, an' LLL 5 2 886 (Q) , cf 

Henslowe’s use of & for an 

as the other wayes (way ’s) a Mars AC 25 1 17, ther's P 4 pr 4 , similarly, 

7 This seems to be the most natural explanation of the assibilated modern form 
It IS difficult to believe that it should ultimately be linked to an unrecorded eNE 
doublet with suffixal stress, as suggested by Wyld, pp 256 f The only St E survivor 
of the older pronunciation I know of, besides figure, is fritter <iFr fnttire, cf 
dialectal and vulgar cntter < creature 



though written in full, me as 3H6 i 1 198, sure as WT 2 3 161, and 
perhaps and AC 3 2 26, WT i 2 454, quahfied as WT 2 i 113 
be spelled by, that is, [bi], AYL i 3 128, its [i] appears to be merged 
with the following [i] m immortalized 1H6 i 2 148, intelligent WT 
12378, perhaps also with our TA 44100, Hart (1570) has tu 
Faspi rd, and houb\ t (p 123) , cf albeit, be it, below 
by be, that is, [bi], L i 4 236 (Q), MV 2 2 47, bitK L 5 3 19 (Q), etc , 
contracted with our to ber, etc , in ber Lady H 3 2 141 (Q2), etc (see 
below), and fused with the following [i] of externall AC 5 2 349, itselj 

Cy 3 1 13 

do de^ye 1H4 i 3 242, di*e P 2 i 152, obviously representing [do], [di] 
have like fully stressed have sometimes written ha or ha* as in AC 2 6 77, 
H5 477, MWW 3 3 18, TS 32118, etc , with the same pronuncia- 
tion, [0], as a in God a mercy H 45 199 (Q2, Gramercy F), 1H4 
3358 (Q), it would a much amazed you, you would a thought 
H I 2 236, 3 2 36 (Q), she might a bin LLL 5 2 17, if I could a re- 
membred TC 2 3 27 (Q) 

he sometimes written a, indicating a pronunciation [0], as in C 5 3 127, 
2H6 4 2 125, MV 2 2 56, TS S I 39, etc In he escapt TNK 4 i 20 the 
two [i]’s were merged or the aphaeretic variant scapt was used as m 
1 16 

her pronounced [oj] as m the rhymes dinner win her, encounter 
mount her Note *our WT 4 4 592, which seems to be a contraction of 
of her, similarly to her Cy 3 2 77 appears to be monosyllabic [tuj] 
him the inverted spelling him Cy 3 3 25 for *em suggests occasional level- 
ing of the two pionouns under [om] 

his frequently reduced to *s as in alVs AYL 5217, at*s AC 3 13 76, be*s 
WT I 2 163, do*s Cy 2 4 12, for*s WT i 2 42, from*s AC 3 7 12, in*s 
AC 3 2 52, H8 I I 125, make*s M 2 3 124, ofs Cy i i 4, off*s AW 
22 10, Cy 5 5 295, on*s AW 2 1 107, nor*s H8 i 2 168, then*s (than 
his) TmA 2 2 1 17, when*s god^s (when his god is) T 2 2 154, and there- 
fore probably also in and his TA 3 i 299 (in which case Empresse 
would have to be trisyllabic), by Ins 2H6 2 i 71, from his AC 3 13 77, 
in his TNK 5 3 44, of his 2H6 4 2 152, H8 i I 63, on his AW i 3 254, 
to his 1H4 5 4 8, L 3 7 107 (Q), M I 6 24 
/ pronounced [i] when used enchtically as in scorn I mourn I forlorn 
me , ® cf the rhyme care I tarry in Beaumont and Fletcher’s The Knight 
of the Burning Pestle, 2 7 57-8 

m reduced to i* m ifaith AW 2 4 39, yfaith AYL 4 3 176, ith, i*th* (see 
below) and to a, 0* in TS 4 5 i, R2 2 i 251 (confusion with on) 

8 See my article *Tive Shakespeare Notes,” pp 310! 


tt reduced to f, with or without an apostrophe, when added enclitically to 
verbal forms, prepositions, and conjunctions, the following is a repre- 
sentative list of such contractions 

an't LLL 5 2 584, and't (an’t) TN 3 2 32, an't (and’t) H 3 4 207 
(Q2), asH RJ 422Q, avouch’ t R3 13115, be’t T i 2 190, beet L 
4712 (Q), cam’t WT i 2 219, dajt (doff't) AC 4413, doate (Qi, 
dote Q2 , do’t Q3) 2H6 2 I 26, don’t (done’t) MWW i 1 14, er’t TmA 
I 2 no, hate H 22565, 4 7 i 57 > 5^354 (all Q2, ha’t, have’t F), 
^ Cy 3 4 12, O 3 3 439, in’t H I I 100, ’ist R J i 5 34, 85, oft AC 
362, on’t T I 287, an’t H 5 i 26, (Q2, on’f F), saw’t H i 2239, 
sworn’t H i 5 tak’t H8 5 i 30, thee’t AC 2781, though’ t AC 
258, hck’lt TNK 2 3 28, toote (to’t) RJ 3 i 177 (Q2 , too’t F), tooked 
(took’t) MWW 22 II (Q), tookt 1H4 I 3 39 (Q, took’t F), with’t 
AW I I 162, T I 2 459 

This ’t is completely merged with a preceding d or ^ as in forbtd’t 
P 2 I 82, let (left) C 3 2 18, TA 4 I loi (Q), left H5 2 i 14, WT 
5 3 73 > WT 2 2 53, puft L 4 6 189 , note further ’s (it is) in by my 
troth’s MA 349, 18 Though not graphically shown, the same kind of 
contraction was used, e g , in disyllabic albett AYL i 2 273, TN 3331, 
bury it 1H6 I 4 87, carry T 3 i 25, persue it AC 2 2 118, receive it 
TGV I 2 40, and in monosyllabic be it S 142 9, MND i i 39, etc , is it 
TC 4 2 68, etc , know it AYL 2 7 38, let it AC i 3 79, make it WT 
5 3 1 14, may R2 3 3 177, etc , were it TA 2 3 196, wore it AW 3 7 25 , 
note oremastret H i 5 140 (Q2, o’remaster’t F), as well as disyllabic 
tender it MV 4 i 209 and trisyllabic deliver RJ 53 24, remember it 
3H6 I I 165, to be pronounced either [rot] or [ojt] Further instances 
are the rhymes jeet see’t, foot too’t, Kate ha’t, note know’t, root 
too’t, shoot do’t, suit rue it, and the pun toot-to’t 
Though the modern contraction ifs does already occur as in H i 5 35 
(F, tis Q2), 3469 (F, Q2), the common colloquial form was ’tis 
as in L 4 6 12, MM i i 82, TS 4 3 66, etc This proclitic variant of it 
was used also in ’twos MM i 3 35, RJ 4 5 72, ’twere TS 4 3 14, fwer 
TNK 5 3 19, ’twill H I 2 243, ’twould MM i 3 36, and ’tas (it has) 
TmA I 2 49, etc , and probably arose from originally enchtic ’t in phrases 
like as ’twer H 3 2 25 ( < as’t were), if ’tis ( < ift is) , etc ® 

9 The erroneous use of the apostrophe is rare , I have noted it in Hs 1H6 2 2 54, 
had't R2 I 3 239, 071 ^ t T 2 1 14s, all of which are disyllabic, that is, U should be read if 
A very interesting case is vouch d it TA 1 1 360, for which Q has the metrically un- 
satisfactory vouch It The F reading must be a blend of the Q version and an original 
vouched, whose *d stood for the enclitic *t < it in the same way as ed in tooked above , 
the correct reading is vouch" t (= vouch it), not the full form vouch it as printed, 
e g , m Kittredge's edition 



me probably reduced to m m trisyllabic let me %ntreat 2H6 3 2 339 
my the variant [mi] is probably reflected in me extent H 2 2 390 (Q2 , 
my F), m pardon me hard language TNK 3 i 106, and in the pun me 
here-^y ear , perhaps also in me hfe TNK 257 Its [i] was doubtless 
merged with the [i] of the following word in my imprisonment 3H6 
4611, mv invention O 21 126, while in my eyes J 4 i 73, my utmost 

0 42 51 it may have become consonantal [j] van Dam-Stoffers sug- 
gestion that monosyllabic by my should be read bym' in by my fay 
TS pr 2 83, by my troth H8 2 3 23 ^ is strongly supported by the col- 
loquial asseverations bem vathers soulCy bim father soule, bym fay 
in Gammer Gurton's Needle 2 i 52, 3 3 40, 4 2 3 and by m' faith m Ben 
Jonson’s The Devil Is an Ass 2 4 12, the pronunciation was probably 

of pronounced [0] and often written a or 0 as in CE 2 i ii, H 2 i 99, 
MV 3 I 100, LC 80, etc , note the inverted spelling rag of Muffins 1H4 
5 3 37 

on pronounced [on] or [0] as in an end TGV 4 4 67, etc , an't H 5 i 26 
(Q2), a my word C i 3 62, o' fire WT 4 4 60, etc 
our merged with unstressed by to [boj] in the asseverations Berlady RJ 

1 S 35, etc , birladie MA 3 3 82, Byrlady TN 2 3 64, etc , hurlady H 

2 2 445 (Q), By'r lakin T 3 3 i, etc 

quoth for ke-tha^ ke-you see p 330, below, note quatha RJ 24 124 
she used proclitically in sh' adulterates J 3 i 56, s' hath H 3 2 70 (Q2), 
she intends H8 2 4 235 

so proclitically reduced to s' in s'lncapeable C 4 6 120 and therefore 
probably also in so unnaturall 3H6 1 1 218 ^ 
the frequently joined to a preceding preposition as in bith' L53I9(Q), 
hi'th O 52355, hy'th' H 22601, etc, ith 2H4 3251 (prose), H8 
I 1 167, 1'th MV 4 1 49, ethe P 42 113, etc , o'th T i 2 202, o'th' H8 
4 I III,® ath' AC 2 2 118, a'th' H 5 2 272, etc , o'th' (on the) TmA 
417, to'th H 22287, too'th 2H4 32216 (Q), to th' S 1158, etc , 
completely absorbed into the preceding t of at and the th of with as in 
at 'Pallace WT 44731, at' nostrils T 2265, imth' King T i i 66, 

1 Pp 150 f But hardly by my Chruiendome J 4 1 16 because of the immediately 
preceding caesura, nor in by my Sword H i 5 154 ff 

2 Similarly no must be read n* in Milton’s No tngrateful PL 5 407, as rightly sug- 
gested by Bridges, p 25 For examples from other poets see van Dam-Stoifel, p 137 

3 Commenting on 0 th’cnnll in Jonson’s Sejanus 2 370, Bayfield, p 305, argues 
for the expansion of to of the m this stupid manner *^Thc%vill cannot be said 
without sounding at least slightly the e of ‘the’, and this Jonson must have expected to 
be done ” Simpson, Ben Jonson, 4, 338, remarks tersely “Of course, the ‘th’ goes with 



mth King T i 2 112, with th' King H8 4 i 109, with' Sun WT 4 4 105, 
with effects AW i i 198, etc , and therefore also m with the dug RJ 

1 3 31 The vowel of the is frequently elided before a following vowel 
as in th' accent H 3 2 34 (Q2, prose), th'affhcHon H 3 i 36, fh' appur- 
tenance H 2 2 388 (prose), th' effect H i 3 45, th' embassadors H 2 2 40 
(Q2), th'impenall H i 2 9, th' opposed H i 3 67, th' oppressors H 3 i 71 
(Q2), Mother H 2 I 56 (Q2), th'unworthy H 3 i 74 (Q2), etc , to cite 
only ten examples from Hamlet , note further th'afternoone MV 2 5 27 
(prose), there's th'end on't TN 5 i 201-2 (prose), fh'one R2 22 iii, 
RL 172 As often, however, the elision is not indicated graphically but 
must be inferred from the scansion, e g , in the excuse RJ 2 5 33, the 
exchange RJ 264, the imagin'd RJ 2 6 28, the uncertain TGV i 3 85, 
the affayres JC 5 i 95, the Athenian MND i i 12, the observance MV 

2 2 204, the unworthy H 3 i 74 (F , Q2 , see above), etc ^ 

thee judging from fetch'th P 2 i 17 (prose), thee could be slurred in col- 
loquial or vulgar speech, becoming some kind of enclitic [t 5 ] or [ 9 ] 
them its usual weak form was 'em < ME hem, as in the rhymes freedom 
need 'em, Buckingham mistrusting them (where them = 'em) , grap- 
ple them H I 3 63 should therefore be read [grsepl-om], with nonsyl- 
labic I and 'em The regular spelling is 'em, but we also find am and um 
as m L 2 4 124 (Q, the Fool), 5 3 25 (Q, Lear himself) , note the very 
interesting juxtaposition of 'em (spelled am Q, um F) and them in as I 
will leave um them Hs 4 3 124 This 'em may be reduced to an enclitic m 
as in monosyllabic by em AC 2 5 106 (read [boim] ), by them O i i 53, 
to them AC 313 190, saw them H8 i i 8 and in disyllabic swallow 'em 
TmA 4 3 537 

these its now archaic variant this appears as an enclitic ^s in within 's two 
houres H 32 135, the same form is probably intended in one o'th's 
dayes TC 5 3 104 (one ath's Q) 

thou Mrs Quickly once uses ta in wot ta 2H4 2 i 63 , see p 320, below 
thy probably pronounced [81] when unstressed, its [i] being merged 
with a following vowel as in trisyllabic thy 'anointed R2 2 i 98 (note 
the significant apostrophe) and thy advanced TC 4 5 188, for which Q 
has th' (in that case the preceding thou hast retained its full forms) 
to used proclitically as t' in t' advance T i 2 80, t' afford RL 1305, t' ap- 
pear e C 5 6 7 t' exchange TGV 2 6 13, t' enjoy Cy 2 i 70, t' illumine 

4 Hart (1570) consistently uses the proclitic tK before vowels, see Jespersen, 
Hart, pp 1 12, 122, Grammar, §6 13 Th* appears erroneously for the m th* annexions 
LC 208, th*attaindor R2 4 1 24, th*East S 132 6, th*eaven S 28 12, th* expiration R2 
23 III, th* harmony T 3141 th*hoorded Q 4211, th* innocent M i|66 (for th? 
inn* cent), th* young WT 44377 



H I I 37, to' retop H 5 i 276 {Q2, to o' ret op F), f undeck R2 4 i 250, 
t'have H 3 I 169, S 138 12, etc , and so to be read in to accuse Cy 2 3 115, 
to atcheeve TS 1 1 184 (cf t' achieve TS i i 224), to have H 5 2 409, 
H8 4 2 152, MND I I 112, to intreat AC 2 2 2, to outface H 5 i 301, etc 
This colloquialism, which was used, e g , by Hart ( 1 570) , died out dur- 
ing the i8th century ® In naught to rfo R3 i i 98, to may have been com- 
pletely absorbed into the surrounding t and d 
us often reduced to enclitic 's as in betweene's WT i 2 18, cram's WT 

1 2 91, jrom's Cy 3 I IS, let's M 2 3 139, make's WT i 2 91, to's LLL 

2 I 25, tutor's TNK i 2 43, upon's T i 2 137, etc , ® similarly m before 
usTC 41 40, fight us TN 5 i 243, let us AYL 3 4 59f io us K 4^ 64, 
trouble us R3 12 50, etc Note shall' s C 4 6 147, etc , for which see 
Franz, §285 

The contraction of a personal pronoun in subject function with an 
immediately following auxiliary verb is a colloquial feature that Shake- 
speare uses liberally for prosodic purposes Sometimes a conti action is 
clearly shown by a fusion of the two words, with or without an apos- 
trophe to mark the elision of the vowel (diphthong), but more often it is 
deducible only from the scansion of the line in question Significant exam- 
ples of both types will be found in the appended survey, which of course 
does not claim to be exhaustive 

I am I'me AW 2 3 154, CE 5 1 119, Cy 4 2 28, JC 4 3 132, L 3 7 33 , Ime 
MV 283 (Q), S I 296 (Q) Similarly / am H 5 2 318, 344, 352, RJ 

3 5 69, T 3 I 53, TGV 4 2 129, etc 

thou art th'art AC 2547, 103, 2762, 41239, C 4517 (prose), H 
5 2 353, TmA i 2 26, TN 2 3 13 , thou'rt Cy 5 5 118, M 15 32, WT 
I 2 211, etc , similarly thou art AC 2 3 26, O 5 2 51, T 5 i 74, etc 
he is, she is he's O I 3 45, hee's M i 7 12, TS 3 2 157, she's TN 2 3 194, 
TS 3 2 158, 159, similarly he is 11 $ 2 274, TmA i i 159, she is 
J 2 I 544, MND 3 2 304, 323, TGV 4 4 81, etc For it is see above 
we are w'are H8 ep 8 , otherwise we are AC 2 6 58, Cy 3 3 40, H 4 5 86, 
TGV 5 I 12, etc , probably pronounced [wi( ) j] 
you are y'are AC 2 5 15, C 4 2 ii, H 2 2 440, TmA 5 i 79, yar L 4 7 49 
(Q)» TNK 2 5 37, 38, you're Cy 3 4 177, you'r MWW 2 2 164, 
your H5 41 214 (Q), TS 52 132, note you'r sham'd, y'are over- 

5 Jespersen, Hart, p 123, Grammar, §9 82 

6 But neer^s H 3 3 6 (Q2) should be read neer us 

y But hee^s H 2 2 97 (Q2) should be read he %s as in F , on the other hand sheets 
RJ 1 2 15 (Q2, F, beginning of line) may be correct, if the line is headless 



throwne, y'are undone for ever MWW 3 3 ioi~2 Likewise you are 
AYL 4 3 22, T 31 17, WT 4 4 145, etc , and in the pun your-youWe 
they are Mare H8 2254, 5487, RJ i i 134 (Q), TC 3 3 120 (Q), 
theyW TNK i 4 22, thaW H 4 7 ii (Q2) , similarly C i 4 21, MWW 
5 5 51, T I 2 450, WT 2 I 148, etc 

was, were you're best Cy 3 2 79 and thou'rt best T i 2 366 show that, at 
least in this idiom, were, wert could be reduced to enclitic 're, 'rt , proba- 
bly thou wer't better J 4 3 95 should be contracted in the same way ® 
On the other hand, in cases where a strict adherence to the iambic meter 
would imply contraction, as in I were best Cy 3 6 19, 1 was JC 4 3 254, 
he was AC 3 2 57, Cy 4 2 39, she zvas AC 4 14 124, Cy 5 5 277, she were 
H 4 5 14, were TS pr 2 87, we may have to do with disyllabic theses 
I have I've H 4 7 84, 5 2 237, 1 'kave MM 314, otherwise I have AYL 
2 7 88, MV 3 4 7S> T 5 I 200, TmA i i 63, etc , to be read [oiv] 
thou hast th'hast L 5 3 35, 168, thou'st Cy 24 146, similarly thou hast 
C 4 5 107, M 4 I 74, O 3 3 335, TA 2 i 97, etc , pronounced [boust] 
he has (hath) 'has H8 5 5 76, has TmA 4 3 454, 476, h'as TN 5 i 178, 
ha's H8 I 3 59, O 2 I 67 (has Qq) , similarly he has M i 7 29, etc , she 
has AC 4 14 23, M 5 I 86, etc , and t'as P 3 2 4, etc S'hath H 3 2 70 
(Q2), which obviously should be read sh'ath, seems to indicate that in 
contractions with hath the [i] of he, she was elided, as further in he hath 
AC 2 3 33 , 0 2 I 61, TN 5 I 372, etc , she hath AC 4 12 48, MM i 2 189, 
etc , this probably also happened in it hath P 3 i 40, to be read t'ath 
But hath H I 2 58 (Q2), which may be a misprint, should be expanded 
to he hath (two syllables) 

we have w'have H8 ep 4, otherwise we have C i 6 5, TS 2 i 299, WT 

2 3 147, etc 

yoUyhave y'have AC 26 112, H8 23 107, JC 2 i 237, S 1206, etc, 
ye'have TmA i 2 26, y'ave TNK 3 i 59, similarly you (ye) have H8 

3 I 145, L 2 I 24, R3 I 4 281, etc 

they have th'have C 1230, H8 1315, 1454, they'ave TC 32198 
(th'have Q) , similarly they have H5 4 2 56, O i i 53, TmA 337, etc 

1 had Fde TmA 3 3 22, 24, otherwise I had JC 4 3 27, O i 2 5, TN 
3 I 120, etc 

thou hadst thou'dst TGV 5 4 50, th'hadst M 4 i 62, TmA 4 3 309 , simi- 
larly thou had' St AYL i 2 241, etc 

he had contraction not indicated but obviously used in he had AC 148, 

8 W S Walker, 2, 207, cites thou'rt (thou wert) from Cartwright’s Ordinary, 
5 4 Ben Jonson’s yd were, tJdwere (they were) in The Demi Is an Ass 1 6 239, 

2 4 37 seem to be similar cases 



C 2 2 84, R2 5 5 83, TS 3 2 173, she had AC 4 14 120, H8 4 i 87, etc 
we had likewise not indicated in print but to be used in AC 475, 2H6 

2 I 46 

you had y'had TNK 4 i 123 and similarly in MV 3 2 242, TA 2 i 97, etc 
they had not indicated in print but to be read [6^ d] in H8 5 2 28 

The above material is fortunately ample enough to show that two pro- 
nunciations were presumably used concurrently one in which the vowel 
of the pronoun was elided, with the verb remaining more or less un- 
changed, and the other m which the verb was reduced to an enclitic con- 
sonant while the pronoun itself was pronounced in full, though probably 
with a shortened vowel Since the latter variant now prevails, it seems 
reasonable to assume that it represents a later development which ulti- 
mately superseded the former , that process was clearly well under way 
in Shakespeare’s time Nevertheless the tendency to elide the vowel of the 
pronoun was still very strong, as may be inferred from ye appeare H8 
3 2242, ye all H8 42 83, you offended 3H6 4 i 19, you about MND 

3 1 109, you a WT 5 i 78, you adopt C 3 2 48, we arrest LLL 21 160, we 
off 2H6 2 2 77, he attends H8 5 i 83 , note particularly the complete elim- 
ination of you in who taught ’ this WT 2 i 12 and the erroneous ehsion 
in y'owe R2 i 3 180 In such cases you and ye were probably reduced to 
[j], whereas we and he became either [w], [h] 01 [wj], [hj], that is to 
say, their [i] changed into the semivowel [i] or consonantal [j] 

Hath was probably enclitic ^th {[ 0 ]) in man hath MND i i 27, TA 

4 2 26 and who hath TNK i 2 103 

Is very often becomes enclitic Sy that is, [s] or [z], as in monsters 
Cy 3 2 2, Romeos R J 3 5 221, levities TmA i 1 134, thers 1H4 2 4 366 
(Q, there's F), whose H i i i (Q2), RJ 3374 (Q2), clymat's WT 

3 1 1, daughter's RJ i 3 10, Madam's Cy 3 2 71, etc , similarly in so is 
AC 2 2 166, there is H8 4 2 105, who is TA 2 4 1 1, etc In this is it is often 
completely merged with this as m this C S 3 141, Cy 2 2 50, 5 3 64, L 

4 6 187, etc , and consequently also in this H 4 5 76, J 2 i 177, L 2 2 loi, 
TGV 5 4 93, etc The same kind of fusion with a preceding s occurred in 
Leonatus (= Leonatus is) Cy 3 6 89 and should be used in Hercules is 
LLL 5 2 591, ignorance is 2H6 4 7 78, influence is LLL 5 2 868 

The enclitic weak forms of mlly wilt, and would are 7 , \l)ty and '(l)d, 
which appear as follows in print 

will lie H 12 245, L 3 4 27, RJ II 164, etc , he'le L 5 3 285, heele RJ 

3 I 61, etc , sheel R J 1 1 215, sheele 1H4 3 i 195 (Q , shee'le F), RJ 
3 4 5 (Q2 , she'll F), etc , weel 1H4 2 4 592 (Q , wee'le F), weele Hs 
332 (Q), RJ 144, wee'l L 2 4 223, RJ i 1 1, etc , you'l MV 4 1 40, 



you^l MM 32177, youle RJ 1581, etc, yele LLL 1254 (Q) , 
theyHe R2 3 4 27, thei'le R J 2 5 73, they'll MM i 2 147, etc , similarly 
I will T 5 I 129, you will MA 4 i 50, we will H5 3 3 56, etc , and now 
will TC 42 21 ® 

wilt thou'lt Cy I S 72, 5 5 139, MV 4 i 20, thou't 2H4 24300 (Q), 
TmA I I 195, th'owt H 5 I 296 (Q2, thou'lt F), etc , similarly thou 
wilt MV 2 9 97, etc Note woo't AC 4 2 7, H 51 297-8, for which see 
p 215, above 

would Fde AW 2 3 93, C i i 202, 238, H 2 2 153, J 2 i 385, L i 3 13, 
TmA 4 3 527, TN I 3 93, Fd Cy 3 6 73, 88, TmA 4 3 219, I do Cy 
3671, Fid C 4157, Cy 4223, T 12198, WT 51223, etc, Ile^ 
MND I I 191 , similarly I would H 2 2 153 (Q2 , Fde F), 3H6 i 2 17, 

0 34190^ ^tc , thou'dst L 349, TmA 43241, TS 1261, thoud'st 
TmA I I 209, TN 4 I 68, thou'd'st O 4 2 141 (F , thoudst Qq), thould'st 
M I 5 23, and thou wouldst R2 5 2 103 hee'd 2H4 3 2 164 (Q , he 
would F), T 2 I 144, shee'd O i 3 149 (Q , she'Vd F), heel'd Cy 2 i 67, 
etc , hee'ld TmA i 2 168, WT 4 3 114, etc , she'ld TGV 433, and he 
would 2H6 2115, she would AW 342, etc , wee'Id AC 4 10 4, and 
we would M 2 I 23 , H8 5 3 166, T 5 i 287, WT 4 4 in, 
218, youl'd C 4 I 18, TN 3 3 24, etc , and you would O 21 103, etc , 
they'ld AC i 2 82, the'yld TNK 3 6 221, and they would M 2 4 17, etc 
Note also who would (=who'd) H 3 i 76 The frequency of weak 
forms without I suggests that its use in, eg, thou'lt, Fid, is purely 
graphic, a concession to the traditional spelling of the corresponding full 
forms ® 

The only weak forms of shall to be found m Shakespeare are thou'se RJ 
139, you' St C I I 130, the clearly dialectal he's TNK 3 4 22, L 4 6 246, 
and shat MND 3 2 426 (Q) Now, ^-forms of shall are generally held to 
be characteristically northern and Scottish,^ but it would be absurd to 
infer from thou'se that Lady Capulet spoke northern English Nor is it 
very likely that Shakespeare, who made Edgar assume the linguistic 
disguise of a country yokel from the southwest, would have committed 

9 But He T ZZ 24 and we'll 1H6 5 4 70 should be read respectively I will and we 

1 A misprint for Ide 

2 A misprint for Ild 

3 It is certainly strange that Franz, §52, should have ignored all these /-less weak 
forms of wilt and would the more so since he used Konig, Der Vers tn Shakespeares 
Dramen, which on p 57 gives some of the above forms , as it is, he emphasizes the 
difference between Shakespeare’s Fid, hee'ldj you'ld and present-day I’d, you'd 

4 Jordan, §183, Eckhardt, J, 37 The above he's TNK 3 4 22 (in the Daughter’s 
song) IS probably a northern form , cf the rhyme knee ete in 1 20 

28 o 


the blunder of introducing a northernism into the conventional stage dia- 
lect, however inconsistent that may otherwise have been Hence we are 
forced to assume that 's for shall was a feature of the southwestern dia- 
lects as well Indeed, there is unambiguous proof that it was, though 
curiously the evidence has been so far ovei looked Not only is Ise for 
I shall recorded from the modern dialects of w Wo and D (EDD) ® but 
similar forms occur as southernisms in some 16th-century plays Thus 
Gammer Gurton's Needle has Ise^ thouse (2x), wese (3x) 3 3 42, 44, 47, 
62, 64, 68, and yoush 1 5 39, while zvees and yuse appear in the second 
part of Whetstone’s Promos & Cassandra, 4 2 , where they are used by 
dialect-speaking characters The variant you'st may be paralleled from 
Marston’s Malcontent 5 5 23, 37 (in lines spoken by Mendoza) You'st 
ne^er meet more Nay, ij you'll do's no good, / You'sf do's no harm 

Cf also ist for I shall m the anonymous play Mtsogonus ® Today 'st may 
still be heard in Db and Chs (EDD, EDGr, Index) Lady Capulet’s use 
of thou'se suggests that these weak forms of shall, though southern or 
southwestern in origin, were colloquial rather than regional and that they 
were current in London even among fashionable speakers, at least in 
familiar conversation (as in the RJ case) 

The weak form of not, enclitic n't, is doubtless considerably older than 
its first recorded use in the middle of the 17th century (OED) Shake- 
speare very likely employed it in monosyllabic cannot AW 3 4 26, C 
5 3 120, O 4 2 161, R3 326, do noth 47 68, doe not TNK 4 i 36, did 
not TC 4235 {— [dint] ), way not 1H6 2 2 47 , do you not WT 225 and 
are you not O 4 2 82 may therefore have been pronounced don't you and 
aren't you'^ In popular speech ha' not was probably contracted to 
ha'n't > a'n't, that is, modern ain't, but I have not been able to find a 
single instance of this form m Shakespeaie, in ha' not WT i 2 267, JC 
I 3 19 not IS fully pronounced, and so it is in you ha me, ha you not 
H2168 (Q) 


The dropping of an initial vowel or syllable from words of two or more 
syllables has been a characteristic of colloquial English for centuries, re- 

5 But not listed m EDGr ^ This is perhaps not surprising when we realize that 
EDGr is nothing but an index to Ellis, On Early Enghsh Pronunciation, Vol 5, 
though its phonetic notation is less precise than Ellis’ 

6 Eckhardt, j, 17 For the authorship of see Ehttredge, /£GP ^(1901), 

355, also Tucker Brooke, The Tudor Drama, p 165 For Gammer Gurton^s Needle 
see p 35, above 

7 As suggested in Jespersen, Grammar, §9 56 



suiting at times in the establishment of doublets with different meanings, 
as in fence-defence j sqmre-esqutre, etc ® Shakespeare has a fairly large 
number of aphaeretic words, as a rule immediately recognizable as such 
(see below) but occasionally to be inferred from the scansion of a line, 
since these hidden variants are of almost purely prosodic interest, they 
need not be discussed here ® The following is therefore only a selected list 
of obvious aphaeretic forms in Shakespeare 

'bout T I 2 220, 'bove T 2 i 118, gree MV 2 2 108, 'larum C i 49, 
lymbeck (alembic) M i 7 67, leges (alleges) TS i 2 28, 'mong H8 5 2 18, 
parrell L 4 i 48, pothecary P 3 2 9, pothecane RJ 5 i 37 (Q), S 3 289, 
sfomsh H 3 2 340 (Q2), atomy 2H4 S 4 32 (Q , anatomy F), atonms RJ 
I 5 57, visa-ments (advisements) MWW i i 39, fives (avives) TS 3 2 55, 
ware AYL 2 4 58, cause M 3 6 21, haviour RJ 2 2 99 (Q , behaviour F), 
cernes (concerns) TS 5 i 77, cide (decide) S 469, stroy'd AC 3 ii 54 » 
leaven (eleven) WT 4333, cheater (escheator) 2H4 2 4 no, 'scuse 
MV 4 I 444, lowe (halloa) TC 5 7 io~i2, spittle (hospital) Hs 2 i 78, 
etc , but tide MND 5 i 205, often printed 'tide, is not an aphaeretic form 
of betide but an instance of the simplex tide (OED) The variant readings 
the Apothecane (F) and Pothcary (Q) 2H6 3 3 17, that test (F) and 
th'attest (Q) TC 5 2 122, th' extravagant (Q2) and the stravagant (Q) 
H 1 1 154 suggest one highly plausible way in which aphaeretic forms 
may have arisen 


Apocope, or the omission of a short unstressed syllable at the end of a 
word, has even less claim than aphaeresis to be considered a phonological 
phenomenon, for that reason only cursory attention will be paid to it 
here Linguistically an aspect of word-formation, it may, of course, be 
employed as a deliberate prosodic device to achieve metrical regularity 
Indeed, a metrically determined vacillation between apocopated and full 
forms might well be expected in Shakespeare, but so far there has been 
no satisfactory treatment of this prosodic practice To be sure, the inter- 
dependence of apocopation and verse rhythm has been strongly advocated 
by van Dam-Stoffel (pp 87-125) as an important means of removing 
seeming irregularities from Shakespeare's verse Unfortunately, however, 

8 See particularly Slettengren, Jespersen, Grammar, §§9 95 > sud Koziol, 

§§656 if 

9 No student of Shakespeare’s versification can afford to ignore the existence of 
such aphaeretic forms, on the other hand, he should beware of van Dam-Stoffel’s 
odd assortment of alleged aphaeretic words in Shakespeare (pp 22 f ) 



their extensive lists of apocopated forms, covering nearly 40 pages, have 
precious little to do with apocopation Most of their examples are either 
old doublets like Ind-Indta, hyen-hyena, shade-shadow, apoplex-apo- 
plexy,^ ilhmine-dUimmate, muttne— mutiny, quiddits-quiddities, etc , or 
alternative forms of the adverb (with 01 without 4 y) , others appear in a 
caesura, where trisyllabic feet are held to be permissible, others again 
are cases of syncopation rather than apocopation, like trisyllabic incor- 
porate RJ 2 6 37, etc Nor is ignomy TA 42115 (Q) necessarily a case 
of apocope like Chaucer's astromye (MT 3451) it might equally well be 
a colloquial syncopation On the other hand Cap els RJ 5 i 18 (‘'Her body 
sleepes in Capels Monument") and 5 3 127 (“It burneth in the Capels 
Monument") is obviously an apocopated form, which Shakespeare must 
have taken over from Brooke's Romeus and Juliet, where it alternates with 
Capilet(s) in strict conformity with the meter ^ Q, too, uses Capel when 
the scansion requires a disyllabic form, otherwise Capolet, the most in- 
teresting case is 3 I 2 , where Q reads “The day is hot, the Capels are 
abroad," the rhythm of which Q2 destroys by printing “the Capels abroad" 
and F restores by its version, “the Capulets abroad " Equally illuminating 
IS 5 3 291, which as a possible conflation of two lines in Qi preserves its 
metrically correct Capulet (“Come Capolet, and come olde Mountagewe^*) 
with unsatisfactory result “Where be these Enemies^ Capulet, Moun- 
tague " It is hard to tell how Shakespeare meant Capulet to be pronounced 
here, by making enemies disyllabic and using the apocopated variant 
Capel, the line will scan, but Cap'let or the full form may well have been 
employed instead Two other instances of Capulet (s), 4 i 112 and i i 86, 
may likewise have been pronounced Capel{s), which would improve the 
rhythm of the first line, whereas the second is nevertheless hypermetrical 

A special type of apocope is the elision of the final vowel in unstressed 
forms of particles like he, by, my, so, the, to, etc , when followed by a word 
beginning with a vowel , numerous examples of this practice have been 
given above It was not merely a metrical makeshift but represented the 
good colloquial usage of the day We have Ben Jonson's word for it in 
his English Grammar that such was the case Discussing Apostrophus, or 
“the rejecting of a V owell from the beginning, or ending of a Word," the 
indication of which “many times, through the negligence of Writers and 
Printers, is quite omitted," he illustrates it by such examples as tK outward 
man, if ye'utter, if ye' once begin, time to'azvake, etc , and then adds this 
significant observation “Yet considering that in our common speech, 

1 For apoplexte 2H4 4 4 130 Pope wished to read apoplex (VarEd , p 355) 

2 It IS not true that Romeus and Juliet used Capel and Capelet indiscriminately 
(statement quoted m VarEd , p 259) 



nothing IS more familiar, (upon the which all Precepts are grounded and 
to the which they ought to be referred) who can justly blame me, if, as 
neere as I can, I follow Natures call ^ As is well known his plays and 
poems abound in elisions of this kind, including such noteworthy instances 
as Vun~alterd (by unaltered), f instruct, als'her (also her) ^ Indeed, his 
explicit testimony fully confirms the corresponding metrical evidence 


The loss of an unstressed syllable from the middle of a polysyllabic 
word appears to be one of the most conspicuous trends of colloquial Eng- 
lish in the 1 6th and 17th centuries It is well evidenced in private docu- 
ments of the period no less than in the published works of poets and 
prose writers Thus when Machyn (1540) writes amralte (admiralty), 
amner (almoner), sumner, tabret (tabouret), catre (eatery), denry 
(deanery), nunre, etc (Wijk, p 174), Laneham (1575) entnng, tern- 
pnng, numbnngs, medsm, fisnamy, eadyar, and Henslowe altrenge, 
altrynge, pastrall, lepracyones, medsen, mtargreytoryes, intergreforyes, 
sprytrall, spirtuall, they anticipate or duplicate Shakespeare’s hravWy, 
gardener, diffnng, tempnng, medicine, intergatory, etc (see below), and 
Jones’ (1701) omission of the unstressed vowel before I, n, r in cav'hng, 
dev'hsh, pard'nmq, etc ® The retention of the fuller forms m careful read- 
ing or formal delivery, very likely through orthoepic precept, very nat- 
urally resulted in a vacillation between syncopated and unsyncopated 
forms, which poets must have found even more expedient metrically, and 
certainly less conspicuous, than, e g , the use of pleonastic do, did to supply 
a much needed half-foot , moreover, it gave to the received language such 
useful doublets as curtsy-courtesy, fancy-fantasy, posy-poesy, sumner- 
summoner, etc Later times have, however, mostly restored the synco- 
pated medial vowel in words of this type 

Syncopation is frequently shown by the omission of the medial vowel 
with or without an apostrophe to take its place, but just as often it is not 
indicated graphically Accordingly, here our only guide is the scansion of 
the line It would be a serious misunderstanding of the linguistic and 
prosodic situation to assume that orthographic consistency was a forte of 

3 Jonson, 8, 528 f , and 2, 428 ff 

4 Jonson, 7, 486 (1 188) , 8 , 159 (1 37 ) and 274 (1 37) 

5 Ekwall, Jones p 70, where the following important statement occurs ^^Note 
that the Vowel before /, w, or r, in the middle of Words of three or more Syllables of 
a quick Run, is apt to be silent , as cavilling, devillish, traveling, &c sounded cai/lmg 
dei/hsh, traveling, &c and in pardoning, every, sounded pard ning evWy, &c which 
are allow’d in Poetry, to be written and sounded the short way ” 



the author or his printer and that consequently the appearance of a full 
form always implies that the medial vowel should be pronounced The 
influence of the conventional spelling, though not so strong as today, 
tended to interfere with any attempt at a more phonetic rendering of the 
word in question It is, indeed, both fortunate and surprising that we 
should find in Shakespeare so many graphic indications of syncopation 
as we actually do 

Several lists of syncopated words in Shakespeare will be found in Ap- 
pendix I Since syncopation appears to be particularly common in words 
ending m certain suffixes, e g , -nZ, -ance, -ence, -tng, the relevant cases 
have, wherever possible, been grouped according to such terminals 

A study of these lists will reveal that a medial vowel followed by Z, r, 
or n IS especially liable to syncopation, the reason being, of course, that 
these consonants can be combined with almost any other preceding con- 
sonant Thus we find syncopation indicated in card^nall, genWall, sevWall 
countenance, diffrence, temperance, utfrance, bravery, deanry, flattry, 
mockene, nunry, watue, desperate, temperate, altnng, bettering, conquering, 
flattering, numbering, offring, tottering, wandering, beckning, deaffening, 
hstmng, recVmng, threalmng, gardener, boysterous, dangerous, marvellous, 
murderous, prosperous, sland'rous, trayferous,^ cheverill, cusnage, intrest, 
intrim, sove rains, many others Considering the frequency of such 

spellings and their agreement with the rhythm of the line, we are bound 
to conclude that, irrespective of the spelling, these and similar words 
were syncopated when the scansion required a disyllabic form and should 
be so read today if we wish to do justice to Shakespeare’s verse , numerous 
examples of this kind have been listed in Appendix i This conclusion 
applies also to four- or five-syllable words regardless of their spelling, 
which were syncopated to three and four syllables, respectively, as in 
trisyllabic ertemporal, generally, deliverance, recovery, incorporate, dis- 
fempring, ministring, soveraigntie, fisnomte, adventrous or tetrasyllable 
conditionally, indifferently, distemprature, confederacy, preposterously, 

Syncopation is fairly frequent, too, before [s], [d], and [t], as in in- 
nocent, mode cine, promising, courtesie, evidence, incident, precedent, capi 
tal, brevity, quality, heretic, politic, etc 

Adverbs ending m -ily often syncopate the i as in bodily C 125, easlie 
J 2 I 515, LLL 5 2 190, easily AC 5 2 35, Cy 3 i 29, 2H6 3 i 100, 135, 
J I I 269, 052 345, R2 3 2 130, R3 3 7 so, TA 2 3 287, VA 627 (spelled 
easly QsS), WT 2 i 53, evilly J 3 4 149, TmA 4 3 467, hapeiy, unhapeiy 

6 For trisyllabic Uaprous H i 5 64 (Q2) see p 293, below 


RL 8, happily €734 150, 1H4 i 3 297, H5 5 2 93, RJ 3 5 116, TS 4 4 19, 
hastily WT 5 3 155, heartily H5 2 2 159, prettily 1H6 4 l 175, suhtilly 
Hs 4 I 275, RJ 4 3 25, unluckily JC 3 3 2, worthily AC 2 2 102 

An unstressed medial vowel may be syncopated before the suffix -ness 
as m emptiness AC 3 13 36, happines:^ AC 3 13 30, 2H6 5 i 124, TmA 

1 I 76, heaviness T i 2 306, readiness Cy 3 $ 23, rottenness Cy i 6 125, un- 
willingness R3 2 2 92, wantonness J 41 16, and perhaps also in humble- 
ness H8 5 I 65 (a difficult line to scan) 

It looks as though the medial vowel could be syncopated also before 
suffixal -jul in pitiful M 4 3 151, RJ 4 5 100 (similarly in pitiless L 3 4 29), 
sorrowful AC i 364, TA 3 i 147, 4266, 5 3 142, 154 (cf sorful 3-4, 
OED), undutiful 3H6 5 5 33 > unmerciful L 3733 With apparently 
disyllabic thankfully Cy i 6 79 vve may perhaps compare the unique ad- 
verb thankly in Sylvester’s Du Bart as (1591, OED), which could easily 
have arisen from thankfly with subsequent simplification of the cluster 
nkfl'^ nkl 

A different type of syncopation is the elision of the vowel of an ending, 
e g , the reduction of -est to 'st , for such cases see the treatment of the 
various suffixes on pp 259 ff , 303 To these should be added here the 
loss of i in -ish, as m monosyllabic nourish 2H6 3 i 348, TA S i 84 and 
perhaps punish AC 4 14 137 (m all cases followed by a word beginning 
with a vowel), in disyllabic famishing TNK i i 167, flourishing R2 i 2 18, 
TGV 543, languishing Cy 159, nourishing O 3 3 78, nourisher M 

2 2 40, perishing Cy 4 2 60, ravishing M 2 i 55, and in the likewise 
disyllabic banishment Cy 3 3 69, R3 i 3 168, punishment Cy S 5 334, H8 

3 2 183, L 4 2 93 This kind of syncopation is attested by Wyclif’s per- 
schide, nurchidj nursche, Chaucer’s punsched, and Capgrave’s norchid, 
perch {id), punchid ^ The same loss of i has taken place in promising AW 
3 3 3> CE 5 1222, WT 44576 and in Alee (Alice) TS pr2ii2, cf 
Henslowe’s spellings allce perce, alls perce 

Warrant is often monosyllabic when it appears as warn't H i 2 243 
(Q2), warnd MND 5 i 326 (Q), warne AYL 4 1 77 (dialectally vore 
L 4 6 247) or is written in full as warrant H 3 3 29, MA 3 i 14, T 4 i 54, 

Several names in Shakespeare’s plays show syncopation of a medial 
vowel Thus the following appear to be disyllabic Abram MV i 3 73 (see 

7 See Dibelius, Anglia, 23, 445, and ten Brink, §178 OED record? flurshe, 
fiors(c)he 5, florche 5 (flourish), parsche 4 (pansh), pershien), perschie), perchyn 
4“*5 (perish), punch, punsch{e) 4~S (punish), and inconsistently enough norsh, 
spelled norsche, norche 4-5, a variant of nourish, as a separate entry 



p 309, below), Cateshy R3 13322, 366, 3 7^2, etc,® Cerberus TA 
2451, Cisley (Cicely) CE 3 i 31, Cicely TS pr2 9i, Gregories TGV 
4284, Gregory H8 32321, Ercles (Hercules) MND 1231, Isabell 
MM 2 2 68, 24 144, 5 I 435 (cf Isbell AW i 3 20, etc ), Katenne TS 

2 I 62, 185, etc , Lancelot MV 235, Margaret 1H6 5 5 24, Margaret MA 

3 I I, R3 I 2 93, 13 301, etc, Ptolomtes AC 3 12 18 (and perhaps also 
146, 17, though at the end of the line), Prospero T i 2 20, 72, 2 i 271, 
5 I 159, etc (note also Prosper T 222), Piramus MND 5 i 160, Salis- 
bury R2 2 4 I, etc , Cicehe (Sicily) AC 267, 46, Ursula MA 3 i 4 (F, 
with the significant Q variant Uisley) Trisyllabic are Bartholmew TS 
pr I 105, 2H4 2 4 250 (F, Bartholemew Q), Canterbury H8 4 i 25 (but 
four syllables 4186 etc), Rodongo O i i 174, 184, but Plantaginet 
J I 1 9, Plantagenet 3H6 i i 40, 48, and Polixenes WT 2 i 82, 3 2 47, 
etc, are doubtful cases Note Gloster 1H6 i 3 4, 6, 62, 8^, which is tri- 
syllabic despite the spelling 

Synaeresis, Synizesis, and Synalepha 

These terms are used of three closely related phonetic and prosodic 
phenomena, the fusion of two vowels of adjacent syllables into one syllable 
by the consonantization of the first vowel (synizesis, synalepha) or by 
the suppression of the second vowel (synaeresis) , synalepha differs from 
symzesis by referring to syllables of two adjacent words, as in the fre- 
quent combination many a 

Such fusions regularly occur in Shakespeare and other early poets 
They, too, reflect colloquial trends in the language which could be, and 
actually were, utilized to advantage in verse Synaeresis, which today is 
frowned upon as being dialectal or vulgar, occurs, e g , in monosyllabic 
dial AYL 2 7 33, quiet R J 3 5 100, trial AC i 3 75,® viands T 3 3 41, in 
disyllabic alliance WT 2321, allowance L i 4 228, appliance P 3 2 86, 
diadem H 22 530, 3H6 2 1 153, diamond Cy i i 112, 1H6 5 3 169, LC 
211, Diomed AC 4 14 114, TC 5 2 137, disquiet AC 2 2 69, liable J 2 i 490, 
Lionel 1H6 2483, lust-dieted L 4 i 68, moity (moiety) H i i 90, etc 
(see p 386), piety TmA 4 i 15, pioner O 3 3 346, poesy TS i i 36,^ 

8 Pronounced [’kgitsbi] today The seemingly trisyllabic form Catesby R3 3 1 157 
suggests that the line is one half-foot short, indeed, Qq read correctly How now 
for F Now 

g These three examples occur in caesuras and may therefore not be conclusive 
So does voyage AYL 2 7 40, otherwise often pronounced as a monosyllable , cf votge 
7 (OED) Quiet IS usually disyllabic 

I From poesy t which, according to OED, "was often pronounced in two syllables,” 
we got the doublet posy by synaeresis 



Pnam TC pr 15, pnory CE 5 i 37, quietly 3H6 i 2 15, quietness AC 
4 15 68, riotous L I 3 6, etc (see p 388), royalty R2 3 3 113, etc , Viola 
TN 5 I 251, violate €755 284, violence R J 5 3 264, R3 i 3 201, etc , 
violent 1H6 5 4 64, J 57 49, RL 894, 1667, etc , violet H i 3 7, VA 125, 
WT 44 120, and m trisyllabic propriety O 23 176, satiety TS i i 24, 
society Cy I 6 167, TmA 4 i 31, etc Contractions like these are occa- 
sionally mentioned by 17th- and 18th-century orthoepists ^ and are, more- 
over, evidenced by the spellings dimond 7, diamond 8, vilet 6, vi'let 7-9, 
moity 6-8 (OED) 

By the same process of reduction the endings -lan, -ion became [in] or 
[sn] in ruffin (ruffian) 2H4 4 5 125, 2H6 i i 188 (Q) and in disyllabic 
carrion R J 3 5 157 , see p 268, above, with further comment on these words 
and disyllabic chariot VA 1,^92, etc The reduction of -ing to nonsyllabic 
[n] (or [g] ) after a preceding^^vowel (see pp 268, 384) is another case 
of synaeresis * 

Other instances of it are disyllabic deity T 2 i 278 and trisyllabic Co- 
rioles C I 8 8, I 9 62, 75, etc , heroical H5 2 4 59, TC 3 3 192 Disyllabic 
Beatrice MA 3 i 21, 24, 29, 37, 43 may have had [1 ] or [^] in the first 
syllable , for the latter pronunciation speaks the variant Bettris, the name 
of Grime's daughter in Greene's The Pinner of Wakefield, cf Bettnce 
m Jones (1701) ® Eleanor, which appears as Elinor 2H6 i 241, was 
syncopated to Elnor 2H6 13150 (Q),2i 169 (Q) ^ When Hermione 
became trisyllabic as in WT i 2 173, S 3 28 it lost its o, usually pro- 
nounced [9] , so did disyllabic JEoIus 2H6 3 2 92, but it is hard to tell 
whether e or o was lost in Pathan (Pantheon) TA i i 242, whose -aw 
obviously stands for [9n] , cf Panthean TA i i 333 

After [ju ] the unstressed vowel disappeared in monosyllabic cruel 
WT 44451, fuel 2H6 3 I 303, jewel AW 5 3 i, H8 5 i 34, Lewis 3H6 
3 3 I59» J 21 425, etc , and similarly i m disyllabic ruinous TA 5 i 21, 
TmA 4 3 465 Note also Rone (Rouen) H5 3 5 54 (Q1-3), obviously a 
kind of phonetic spelling of the French nasal 

It is more difficult to determine what happened in the endings -ual, 
-uate, -uance, -uence, -uitv, and -uous Of these, -uance, -uence, and 
-uity probably suppressed the second vowel, and -ual may well have done 
the same The Q spelling mutally MWW 4610, unless a misprint, and 
the fact that Jones (1701) directs u to be dropped in -ual, -uary, -uous 

2 See, eg, Ekwall, Jones, §261, and Mather Flint, p ii, where diamond is given 
as disyllabic 

3 Ekwall, Jones, p 98 and §504 

4 Cf the late 16th-century ballad The Lamentable Fall of Queene Elnor, reprinted 
m Bullen, The Works of George Peele 



(pp 25, 88) would, however, seem to favor van Dam-Stoffers conten- 
tion that Shakespeare pronounced -ual as -al and -uous as -ous ® On the 
other hand we find in Shakespeare the spellings impittious (impetuous) 
H 4 5 100, tncesHous H i 2 157, 5 2 336 (Q2), unctious TmA 43 195, 
which like the OED forms sum(p)Hous 6-7, tempesUous 6-8 (-eous, 
-yous 6), tumult eous 6 and Hart's (1570) vertius point to the regular 
development of unstressed ME eu to t (see p 258, above), with subse- 
quent change of this i to the consonantal [j], perhaps even with assibila- 
tion of [tj] to [tj] The pronunciation of -uate may therefore have been 
[j^( )t] when the meter required it to be monosyllabic Disyllabic spirit- 
ual 1H6 3 I 50, etc , was pronounced either [sprit (j)9l], [sproit(j)9l], or 
[spnt(j)9l] , cf Henslowe's sprytrall, spirtuall and the OED doublets 
spzrital, spntual, the latter spelled sprytwalle 5, a form that may even 
conceal a variant in [w^l] The terminal -ua in Mantua RJ 3 3 169, 
4 1 124, etc , Padua TS i i 22, 45, Cophetua RJ 2 i 14 appears to have 
been monosyllabic, and the inverted spelling cophetua H5 2 3 55 (Qi, 3) 
for Caveto may imply a reduction of -ua to [o], as does Couitha 2H4 
5 3 106 (F, Couetua Q) This use of [9] for -ua would explain the con- 
fusion of Mantua and manteau as reflected in the erroneous form mantua- 
maker Jones (1701) directs Mantua to be pronounced without the final a, 
and Ellis believed that [lu] was the normal 17th-century pronunciation ® 
It does not seem possible, therefore, to determine whether monosyllabic 
-wwas [ju], [w9],or [9] 

Synaeresis was common m the comparative and superlative forms of 
adjectives and adverbs in -y and -ly , Konig (p 45) estimates them at 
93 per cent of all instances The only phonetic spellings I have found are 
easilest Cy 42 206 and rascallest 1H4 i 2 90, and they may, of course, 
be misprints Otherwise the normal spelling is used, and the scansion alone 
will tell us whether or not such a form is syncopated Here are some 
examples of monosvllabic -ler and -lest craftier TA 2441, earthher 
MND I I 76, heavier 2H4 4 i 69, holyer WT 5 i 31, mightier RL 1004, 
easiest WT 3 2 91, happiest 2H6 1 1 15, heaviest M 4 3 202, holiest LC 
233 j mightiest MV 4 i 188, prettiest RJ I 3 60, speediest TGV i 3 37, 
veriest Cy 5 3 77, worthiest TGV 126, etc The pronunciation of mono- 
syllabic -ler was either [u] or possibly [j 9 r] , while -lest was undoubtedly 

5 Ingennous LLL 4 280 (F) is clearly a misprint for mgenuouSy while the corre- 
sponding Q form ingenous may well be an error for mgemous Neither can be used 
to prove that symzesis was foreign to Shakespeare, as van Dam-Stoffel do (p 43) 

6 Jones" Mantu (Ekwall, JoneSy p 114) is ambiguous, for its u may stand for [ju] 
or [o] See also tbtd, §520, and Ellis, p loii 

7 Neither the reduction of -ter, -test nor the fusion of -tng with a preceding vowel 
(see p 269, above) is, however, a case of symzesis, as Konig maintains 


[ist] ® The same loss of the vowel m -er, -est occurred also when another 
vowel or diphthong preceded the ending, as in lower H5 Spr29, bor- 
rower, follower, widower (see p 380), highest R3 5 3 197, newest WT 
4 4 327, shallowest MND 3 2 13 , cf p 265, above But twentith H 3 4 97 
(Q2) IS directly descended from ME twentithe, both Gill (1621) and 
Butler (1634) record the same form, whereas our modern pronunciation 
IS an adjustment to the analogical spelling 

Synizesis would naturally take place when the first unstressed vowel 
was an % or an e, both pronounced [i], which then became consonantal 
[j], with or without subsequent assibilation , [j] is a common variant of 
[i] todav m words like folio, medial, odious, sometimes with assibilation 
as in [I’mi d39t] by the side of [i‘mi djat] and [I'mi diit] (immediate) 
Despite this well-attested modem vacillation, which they mention, van 
Dam-Stoffel (pp 39 f ) refuse to admit the occurrence of synizesis in 
Shakespeare The arguments they marshal to support their hypothesis 
that words of this kind ''were shortened in a very different way” are 
entirely specious and cannot be upheld on a closer examination First of 
all they adduce spellings that are obvious misprints, e g , Pellon H 5 i 276 
(Q, Pelion Q2, F), Lucus JC 43295 (but Lucius in 1 299), Octavus 
JC 32276, and misprison LLL 4398 (Q) for F misprision, which, 
moreover, rhymes with incision Secondly, they cite forms which orig- 
inally had no medial i, such as billards AC 253, Christen H 5 i 32 (Q2), 
Faulchen 3H6 1412 (Q), for which see OED Again they confuse 
synaeresis and synizesis, adducing examples of s>naeresis, e g , rascallest, 
disyllabic varying, etc , to disprove the use of synizesis ^ And finally they 
do not pay enough attention to assibilation, which after all presupposes the 
existence of [j] < medial i, they mention only aunchentry and tashan 
as examples of assibilation but have overlooked marshal^ (martial), 
martiall (marshal), contigian, ^cagion, Ventigius, lushious, and Capu- 
dims, which will be dealt with below (pp 317 f) Their case against 
synizesis in Shakespeare consequently is unjustifiable 

Nevertheless there is some evidence of the suppression of the first vowel 
as an alternative of synizesis Gabrels (Gabriers) TS 41 136, which 
agrees with Henslowe's spelling gabrell, is probably a case in point, 
though the phonetic value of its e is open to speculation ( [9] or [i] ^) , ^ 
ruffin for ruffian may belong here too, unless it is an instance of synaeiesis 

8 In Queen Elizabeth’s letter as transcribed by Bruce we find not only gladhst, 
wickedhst but also boldlar, latelar, which if correctly rendered imply the suppression 
of % and a pronunciation [bj] 

9 What they say (p 43) about ‘‘the excrescent in Marlowe’s spelling marshall 
(martial), etc, is, of course, sheer nonsense 

I Nashe puns on gabnll and Gabriel m Saffron Walden ( 159 ^) » see gabrtll, OED 



— cf Henslowe’s adren for Adrian — ^and perhaps emperals (imperiars) 
TA 4 3 94 (Q), if not a misprint Disyllabic meteor 1H4 i i 10, J 3 4 157, 
etc , would seem to be a genuine case of symzesis were it not for me at or 
MWW 22 293 (Q) and the variants meatu{a)re 7 (OED), which un- 
mistakably point to a pronunciation without [i] or [j] Such a variant is 
actually taught by Jones ( 1701 ) , who also omits the i in William, valiant,^ 
Daniel, Gabriel, spaniel,^ etc , whatever the precise phonetic interpreta- 
tion of his rules may be ^ How far this trend of suppressing the vowel had 
affected Shakespeare’s speech cannot, unfortunately, be determined from 
the available material So much seems certain, however there was no 
uniformity in the treatment of words like these, and consequently some 
speakers used to pronounce, eg, meteor, when disyllabic, [mi tjsj], and 
others [mit9j] 

For the reasons set forth above and until we have stronger contem- 
porary evidence of the kind of vowel omission recommended by Jones a 
hundred years later, we shall assume that symzesis was used whenever 
metrically necessary in words like burial, cordial, nuptial, imperial, beau- 
teous, curious, envious, glorious, serious,^ dalliance, experience, etc (see 
pp 371 ff , below) , further in champion ® AW 4 2 50, etc , idiots RL 
1812, period RL 380, 565, TGV 2 i 121, rapier RJ i 5 57, 4 3 58, and in 
such names as Ariel T 4 i 33, 57, Benvolio R J 3 i Ethiop AYL 
4 3 3 S» RJ I 5 48, Cassius JC 4 3 95, Cynthia R J 3 5 20, Demetrius MND 

2 Valtanf H 2 2443 (F), for which Q2 has correctly valanct, is clearly a misprint 
and not an inverted spelling- 

3 According to OED it was spelled span {n) el { 1 ) 6-7, and spaml 9 (dialectal and 
vulgar) Such spellings support Hammer's emendation of the unintelligible pannelled 
AC 4 12 21 to spameVd 

4 Jones has the same rule for the pronunciation of %e in Daniel, etc , as he has for 
le in hier, canomer (Ekwall, Jones, p 44, cf also p 49), namely “the sound of e'* 
His editor Ekwall appears to be unaware of the phonetic difficulty involved here or 
has chosen to by-pass it in silence , moreover, he accepts van Dam Stoffel's erroneous'" 
views on symzesis in Shakespeare (§512) 

5 Jespersen, Grammar, §§9 83, 9 85, errs in stating that Butler (1634) used to elide 
t m curiously, seriously, provision in verse It is true that Butler normally uses the 
apostrophe to symbolize mute e, but here it stands for [j], as Butler expressly says in 
a note to ser*ous't for seriousest “Where i before a Vowel, elided by Syncope, is 
sounded as y Consonant and so is e, as in nghfous ” Butler consequently employed 
symzesis in such words when the meter so required 

6 Krapp, 2, 252 f , cites the 1672 spelling Champin “for the proper name usually 
spelled Champion,” suggesting that it indicates the pronunciation of champion used 
by Shakespeare in 1H6 3 4 19 , but his additional statement that champion here had 
“a long vowel and a stress in the second syllable” makes no sense — ^the line in question 
runs “A stouter champion never handled sword ” 



I I 52, Elysium VA 600, Julia TGV 2 6 19, Juliet RJ 2 2 3, Mercutio RJ 
3 I 121, Parthia AC 3 i i, Petruchio TS i 2 131, Sebastian T 2 i 205, 
TGV 2 4 84, Silvius AYL 3 5 92, Thuno TGV 2 4 97, etc , 

^ TGV I I 12, Romeo R J i i 123, Theseus MND 2 i 72, etc In 
gracious there was probably assibilation, and perhaps also in immediate, 
odious, tedious, etc In disyllabic miscreant 1H6 3 4 44, procreant M i 6 8, 
recreant RL 710, etc , suppliant RL 897, etc , it would be natural for the 
first unstressed vowel to disappear altogether, while in disyllabic shadowy, 
sinewy the syllables -owy, -ewy may have been reduced to [wi] 01 pos- 
sibly [ji] in sinewy For the interchange of suffixes in dextenously TN 
I 5 66, jealious MWW 2 2 276, S 57 9, etc , magnammious AW 3 6 70, 
studient H i 2 177 (Q1-2), etc , drovier MA 2 i 202, lowers RJ i 4 73 
(Q), and Provmciall (Provencal) H 32288 see OED Note also the 
(inverted spellings fiouriet MND 4 i 58 and patrionesse P 3 i ii 

When the first word of two words forming a sense and breath group 
ends m unstressed [i] and the second begins with a vowel, the essential 
conditions exist for the occurrence of s)malepha, that is, the fusion of the 
two vowels by the consonantization of the [i] to [j] or by its complete 
absorption by the following [i] or [1 ] Such fusion is particularly com- 
mon when the first word is any, many or an adjective ending in -y I quote 
the following typical examples of this phenomenon any abortive LLL 
I I 104, any hard H 2 i 107, any oath 3H6 i 2 16, any of WT 2212, 
many a AYL 2 7 130, 2H6 3 i 115, J i i 183, T 3 i 39, WT i 2 192, 
many are TC i 3 187 , fiery and TS 3 i 48, holy a MM 4 3 1 17, speedy and 
1H6 538, ugly a J 4 3 123, worthy a R J 3 5 146 , boldly and R3 5 3 270 
deeply indebted 2H6 1447, directly unto 1H4 2389, hardly attain'd 
2H6 I 4 74, hardly endure TS i i 178, humbly on R3 2 2 105, only have 
AC 1 4 38 , city of 1H6 3 I 77, body in 2H6 4 10 84 , marry and RJ 4 5 8 , 
as merry C i 6 31 , bury him Cy 4 2 251, pity him R2 5 3 57, marry her 
P 5 3 72 , perhaps also in may appeare TGV 5 4 82 

Development of New Vowels 

At least as early as the isth century there had begun to develop a 
glide [o] between r and a preceding long vowel or diphthong, as m ear, 
air, fire, our, etc (Luick, §§505 ff ), a development that resulted in the 
modern St E diphthongs [10], [eo] and the triphthongs [aio], [auo],etc 

7 Proteus occurs twice m TGV i 2 124 “Poore forlorne Protheus, passionate 
Protheus,"' where the first instance may be disyllabic, [pro tj3s], unless we postulate 
a trisyllabic foot in the caesura , at the end of the line the name is definitely trisyllabic 



When used m verse, words of this type could be either monosyllabic or 
disyllabic as the occasion required, though the former was by far the 
commoner in Shakespeare Twice the two types appear to have been used 
in the very same line, viz , in JC 3 i 171 “As fire drives out fi^ e, so pity 
pity,*' and in TA S 3 156 “Tear for tear, and loving kiss for kiss*' (in this 
line, however, the first half-foot may have been suppiessed) Vacillation 
between monosyllabic and disyllabic pronunciation is usual in woids de- 
rived from ME ir and ur, as in fire, hire, hour, flower , for other examples 
see the respective chapters dealing with the stressed vowels and diph- 
thongs ^ 

Genuine cases of anaptyxis, that is, the insertion of a parasitic [o] be- 
tween two consonants forming a cluster, are rare in Shakespeare But 
we seem to have examples m trisyllabic coiintry P 5 3 3, TN i 2 21, 
Douglas 1H4 5 2 33, Henry 1H6 2 5 82, 2H6 2 2 23, etc , 3H6 i i 41, 
etc , R3 2 3 16 (cf Henslowe’s spelling henene), Humphrey 2H6 i i 162, 
193, 2 2 74 (in all cases at the end of the line), minstrels TNK 4 i iii 
(perhaps from an OF doublet minister el, OED), mistress ® AC 2 5 27, 
TS 4 5 53 , but Bertram's AW i i 94 (at the end of the line) and frustrate 
AC 512 (perhaps only four feet, with monosyllabic being) are doubtful 
cases The frequent variant alarum, usually trisyllabic except in C 2 2 80, 
IS held to represent an imitation of the foreign pronunciation with trilled 

but we must not forget that the dialectal and vulgar tendency to insert 
an [9] between the two consonants in words like elm, farm, warm, worm 
IS of long standing, Bullokar (1585) gives elm, helm with syllabic m, 

8 Komg, pp 60 f, and other commentators on Shakespeare's verse postulate the 
same development in charge 3H6 3 i 97, hard H8 32 117, laid TA 42 136, hoard 
MND 4 I 38, etc , but there is no phonological evidence to warrant the assumption 
that these words could then be treated as disyllables Kittredge, too, is prone to 
solve metrical difficulties by the dubious expedient of postulating a disyllabic pronun- 
ciation not only of words like worst M 3 1 103, York 1H4 i 3 269, and arch- in 
Archdeacon 1H4 3 i 72 but also of the long vowel or diphthong in bootless 1H4 
3 1 67, room MND 2 1 58, nine 1H4 3 1 156, speak H 44 17, RJ 3 5 174 His assertion 
tliat the vowel was “prolonged in pronunciation with a change of pitch — counting 
therefore as a disyllable" (p 749) is nothing but conjecture There are other and 
better ways of straightening out this prosodic problem With regard to bootless, 
e g , the line can be made regular by pulling the last word of the preceding line, him 
(unstressed), over to the beginning of 1 67 , or that line may be intentionally headless 
Moreover, the line in which York occurs had very likely only four feet , is it should 
then be read isH 

9 Lyly puns on mistress and mysteries in Gallathea 44 19 if , but as the spelling 
shows, he pronounced both words as disyllables (Mistris-Mistnsse) , as did Shake- 
speare except m the above cases (cf mystery, p 376, below) 

I Jespersen, Grammar, §9 78, and OED 



Henslowe writes warem for zvarm,^ and Shakespeare Phtlome (film) 

RJ 1463 

In Other cases the seemingly parasitic [a] is etymologically justified, as 
in trisyllabic angry TmA 3 5 57, brethren (spelled br ether en) TA i i 89, 
children CE 5 i 360, changeling MND 2 i 23, entrance M i 5 40, RJ 
I 4 8,^ fiddler TS 2 i 158, handling 2H4 4 i 161, juggler MND 3 2 282, 
juggling 1H6 5468, pilgrim AW 3 5 42 (unless the line has only four 
feet), semblance P 1471, tackhngs 3H6 5418, tickling MA 3180, 
leprous (spelled leaperous F, leaprous Q2) H i 5 64, monstrous M 3 6 9, 
O 2 3 217, wondrous MND 5 i 59, gently TNK 2 2 138 ^ and in tetra- 
syllable dissemblers R J 3 2 87, remembrance J 5 2 2, M 3 2 30, TN i i 32, 
WT 4 4 76 , further in trisyllabic captains M i 2 34, Empi ess TA i i 240, 
320, etc (spelled Emperesse TA i i 320, Q), marshal 1H4 442, 1H6 
47 70 and tetrasyllable commandment 1H6 i 3 20, MV 4 i 451 (written 
commandement but, in prose, command' ment 2H4 53 142) Business is 
frequently trisyllabic as in AC 3340, H 2282, O i i 154, etc, and 
creature has likewise three syllables in 1H6 164 and P 32104® If 
jar ew ell 1H4 i 3 234 is trisyllabic, as editors seem to think, the medial 
vowel is probably a weakened thee or ye For trisyllabic statue JC 2 2 76 
32 193, R3 3725, 2H6 3280 modem editions often have statua, an 
emendation approved of by OED , in that case the ^ is a phonetic spelling 
of unstressed a Note also esperance 1H4 5 2 97 with final e pronounced 

The Elizabethan fluctuation between colloquialism and conservatism m 
pronunciation is particularly noticeable in the treatment of such endings 
as -lage, -lence, --lent, -ion, etc In everyday speech these endings were 
normally reduced to monosyllables by the processes of symzesis and 
assibilation The older pronunciation with syllabic [i] lingered on, how- 
ever,® and was frequently used in verse whenever an extra unstressed 
syllable was needed This practice can be illustrated by the following short 
list of words, in which the unstressed i or e must be given full syllabic 
value, [i] carriage R J i 4 94, marriage RL 221 , familiar RJ 336, fa- 

2 See EDGr, §234, Sf Dtal, §159, and Bullokar, pp 168, 175 The anaptyctic 
[a] may have developed from a tendency to release the contact of I and r before be- 
ginning to articulate the m 

3 Bullokar (1585), pp 156 169, 176, has trisyllabic angry, entry, hungry 

4 Other examples in 4 y adduced by Konig, p 58 are very doubtful 

5 Butler (1634), p 55, gives creature as a tnsyllable 

6 Abbott, §479, mentions the fact that Gill (1621) always writes -tion as two 
syllables, adding the very pertinent observation “But there is some danger in taking 
the books of orthoepists as criteria of popular pronunciation They are apt to set 
down, not what is, but what ought to be 



miJtanty WT 2 i 175, substantial R J 2 2 141 , pageant 2H6 i 2 67, ser- 
geant M I 2 3 , soldier JC 4 i 28, L 4 5 3, etc , conscience TmA 3 2 94, 
patience AYL i 3 80, CE 3 i 94, impatience JC 2 i 248, ancient L 5 i 32, 
impatient TA 2 i 76, patient 2H6 i 3 68, sufficient 3H6 i 3 26 , 

H5 3 I 14, MV I I 8, etc , musician TNK 41 133 , contagion CE 2 2 146, 
million H5 pr 16, minion J 2 i 392, opinion JC 2 i 145, rebellion 3H6 
I I 133, religion 1H6 i 3 65, AYL 439, conjuration RJ 5368, 

coronation 3H6 2 6 96, correction TGV 2 4 138, devotion R J 4 i 41, divi- 
sion RJ 3 5 29, expedition TGV i 3 37, infection R J 5 2 16, intermission 
AYL 2 7 32, lamentation RJ 3 3 154, observation 3H6 26 108, occasion 
1H6 3 I 154, promotion RJ 4 5 71, question 1H4 i i 34, ambitious JC 
3 2 84, gracious MA 4 i 109, gorgeous L 2 4 271, hideous MWW 4 4 34, 
licentious CE 2 2 133, malicious C i i 91, officious TA 5 2 202, pernicious 
H8 5 3 19, precious 1H6 i 6 24, prodigious J 3 i 46, religious TA 5 i 74, 
spacious TA 2 i 114 


From a modern point of view the Elizabethan pronunciation of the 
consonants was slipshod, not to say vulgar This characterization does 
not imply, however, that the articulation of the sounds themselves was 
appreciably different from our own So far as we can ascertain today, it 
was nothing of the kind But even the best speakers used to omit and add 
consonants with little regard for etymology, grammar, or conventional 
orthography, the general trend of colloquial speech was toward a sim- 
plification of speech-utterances in a breath-group no less than in the body 
of a word, a trend that paradoxically enough led to the occasional inser- 
tion of a consonant in a cluster to facilitate articulation Later periods con- 
trived, however, to restore many of the losses and to abolish most of the 
additions, so that today the Elizabethan treatment of the consonants can 
be paialleled only in dialectal and vulgar speech The survival of older 
forms now completely obsolete in St E and the deliberate use of spelling- 
pronunciations (mainly for metrical purposes) enhance the general im- 
pression of unsettled, highly fluctuating usage ^ 

A study of the phonological material adduced in this chapter cannot 
fail to convey the same impression The many omissions and additions of 
consonants are particularly well evidenced by spellings, rhymes, and puns 
On the whole the spelling evidence is as dependable as that of the rhymes 
and puns, though it has not always been an easy task to distinguish be- 
tween misprints and genuine instances of consonantal changes , this is true 
above all of the loss of final -c? in cases like fame, shame, etc (p 298, 
below) When, however, as usually happens, the orthographic material 
merely confirms already well-attested consonantal changes, the hazard of 
accepting its testimonv becomes negligible 

The use of assonance instead of true rhyme may conveniently be 
touched upon in this connection, though of course it provides no clue to 
Shakespeare's pronunciation of the consonants We can distinguish sev- 
eral types of this prosodic practice 

I All nasal consonants rhyme indiscriminately, as in soon, 

"^home drone, contempt extent, empty plenty, replemsh blemish, sign 

I This situation appears to have prevailed throughout the 17th and i8th centuries , 
seeWyld, pp 283 ff 




time, son tongue, tempnng ventring, see also the rhyme words m, king, 
long, sing 

2 Voiced and voiceless sibilants rhyme, more rarely other voiced and 
voiceless consonants defaced rased, ^ his kiss, enterprise sacrifice, inci- 
sion physician, is amiss, bliss, iwts, kiss, this, beseech liege, budget 
avouch it , also safe slave, invisible steeple, mount sound 

3 The fricatives [ 0 ] and [b] rhyme with f and v, respectively, in 
wealth yourself, youth proof, farthest harvest , note also ^father labor 
and labor favor 

4 The clusters [st] and [dz] rhyme respectively with [J] and [d3] 
in minister finisher, lords George, friends revenge, while [s] is linked 
with [J] in*r^drm refresh 

5 Voiceless plosive consonants rhyme in halt talk, sinister whisper, 
"^split ship, "^strike might, and voiced plosive consonants in lady may 
be , but "^fickle brittle may imply the use of the variant bnckle 

It is a noteworthy fact that no less than eight of the above examples 
occur in those parts of P and PP that can hardly have been written by 
Shakespeare , they have therefore been marked here with an asterisk Of 
the rest, three appear in 3H6, while sinister whisper is used in the 
Pyramus and Thisbe parody in MND 

h and p 

The nonpronunciation of final h after m is evidenced by its omission in 
climeR]226z {Q),2$y6 {Q) , coame 2116 z Z IS (Q), JC 3 2230, 
lamme RJ 2 545 (Q2), by the rhymes climb crime time, dumb come, 
lamb man, tomb come, and by the unetymological addition of b in such 
spellings as do{o)mbe AYL i 3 85, R2 i 3 148, debt broken (date-) TmA 
2 2 38, plumbe (plume) T 3 3 65, white-limVd (-limed) TA 4 2 98 , in 
this position b has been silent since about 1300 ® In chamblet (camlet) H8 
S 4 93 3 . transitional b developed between m and I as in bramble, thimble , 
the form without the b was, however, also used as m modern camlet, for 
the stenographer John Willis (1602) directs b to be ‘^neglected’’ in cham- 
blet, debt, lamb ^ No 6 was normally heard in doubt, debt, but pedants 
like Shakespeare’s Holofernes tried to enforce its unhistorical insertion, 
chiding those ‘^rackers of ortagriphie” who used to say dout, det, when 

2 But note the confusion 1400-1650 between race, vb 3, and rase (OED) Hodges 
(1643) couples race and rase as being pronounced alike 

3 Jordan, §211 CruTns TN 2 3 129, hmmes R3 3 7 125, numme 1H6 2 5 13, nums 
VA 892 are historically correct spellings 

4. See Studta N eophilologtca, 7 (1934/35), 7 ^ 132 

CONSONANTS [b] AND [p] 297 

they should pronounce d-o-u-b-t, d-e-b-t (LLL 5 i 22-4) Shakespeare 
consequently rhymes debt (spelled det) with let fret and debtor (spelled 
detter) with better , for other rhymes with conventionally written debty 
doubt see Rhyme Index Note also the inverted form doubt (do out) 
H 1437 (Q2),'' HS4 2II 

The unvoicing of b at the end of an unstressed, final syllable, which 
dates back to ME times, is responsible for war dr op 1H4 5 3 27 (Q), ap- 
parently the current form till the end of the 17th century 

A transitional, voiceless glide, p, sometimes appears between m and t, 
m and s, as in dreampt JC 2276, RJ 1450 {dreamt Q), dremp't P 
4 6 no, mushrumps T S i 39, but this insertion of p was certainly not uni- 
versal,® as may be seen from the rhymes empty plenty, contempt extent 
and Costard’s malapropism contempts (contents) LLL 11191^ Fusion 
of p and b through regressive assimilation has given rise to cubbordtng 
C I I 103, courtcubbord RJ 158, obrayds (upbiaids) L i 3 6 (Q), ob- 
braidmgs TNK 3 632, forms that go back at least to the 15th century 
(OED) Intervocalic p has become voiced in debuty 2H4 2 4 92 (Q), lib- 
bards (leopard’s) LLL 5 2 551, Lubbars 2H4 2 i 31, and Jupiter, spelled 
Jubiter 3-4 (OED),® with a pun on gibbet er For trisyllabic unpeopled 
LLL 2 I 88, Q has the remarkable reading unpeeled, which must be a mis- 
print , it IS impossible to accept van Dam-S toff el’s explanation (p 61 ) of it 
as a syncopated form, with people > peel 

Bank{e)rout CE 4 2 58, R2 2 i 151 (Q , bankrupt F), etc , represents 
Fr banqueroute < It banca rotta, which was later Latinized to bankrupt, 
with consequent change of pronunciation The same refashioning of the 
spelling in conformity with the ultimate Latin etymon explains accompt (s) 
R2 I I 130, TmA 2 2 142, etc , compt M i 6 26, O 5 2 273, etc , compt- 
less VA 84, conceipt RL 1423, deceipt RL 1507, P i 4 75 (rhyming with 
repeat), receipt RL 703 (rhyming with conceit), and corpes (corpse) 

5 This IS the commonly accepted interpretation Tucker Brooke (Yale edition, 
p 182) adopts Tannenbaum’s emendation adulter, which may have appeared in the 
MS as ojt adoulf (with the current abbreviation for the ending -er), read by the 
the printer of Q2 as of a doubt This ingenious suggestion, which involves only a 
minor alteration of the text, actually gives better sense than often doubt with of a 
emended to often 

6 See Jordan, §210, and Studm Neophtlologtca, 7 (i934/3S), I3if Ghmses 
H 1 4 53 (Qi-2) is the historical spelling 

7 Content MWW 1 1 258 is often emended to contempt, following a suggestion 
by Theobald This would imply a malapropism of the same kind as Costard^s, and 
one that is quite likely in view of Slender’s decrease for ‘increase’ and dissolved, 
dissolutely for ‘resolved, resolutely’ in the same speech 

8 Other spellings of the same kind, including Jubyter m Caxton, will found 
in Wyld, pp 312 f 



JC 3 2 63, etc , which is, however, usually written coarse H i 2 105, 1H4 
I 3 44, etc , course JC 3 i 291, etc Samptre L 4 6 15 is the original form, 
later altered to samphire (OED) 

d and t 

The unstable eNE treatment of final and mterconsonantal d and f, 
which has left some traces in modem St E , can be abundantly exemplified 
from Shakespeare Though it is possible to establish definite trends of 
usage, their application to individual words will be largely a question of 
probability , the mere fact that a word appears, for instance, with or with- 
out a final d need not imply that it was consistently so pronounced — ^it 
only shows that such a pronunciation did exist in Elizabethan English 

Loss of final d after I and n, a well-known feature of dialectal and 
vulgar English today, is evidenced by the rhyme hand man and by the 
spellings cuckole O 4 3 78 (Q), cuckally MWW 2 2 276, 281 (Q), hole 
(hold) ^ 2H4 pr35, scall (scald) H5 S i 17 (Q), Sutton cophill (Cold- 
field) 1H4 423 (Q, with ph=zf, F has instead Sufton-cop-hill) , line- 
grove (Iind-) Ts I lOjMzw^ ^MWW 13 iii, pun (pound) TC2 i 42, and 
m the p pies destgne H i i 94 {desseigne Q2), fledge 2H4 i 2 24 (Q), 
flidge MV 3 i 32 (Q2-3), pardon H 3 3 50 (Qa), seale H i i 86 (Q), 
etc whereas endeere to 2H4 2311 (Q) and seeme to T x 2 205 look 
like clear cases of sandhi Older forms are preserved in scaffolage TC 
I 3 156 and a-vis*d (advised) MWW i 4 105 , see OED 

In consonant clusters d is apt to disappear as in hanker cher{s) O 4 i 22, 
38 (Q), usually, however, spelled handkercher, hansom TNK 4 i 9, 4 2 3, 
hansomely TA 2 3 268, graunsire (grandsire) RJ i 4 37 (Q2), graunsirs 
H5 I 2 103 (Q), bandogs 2H6 i 4 21, canstick (candlestick) 1H4 3 i 131 
(Q), beares (beards) Ra 32 112, burbolt (bird-bolt) MA i i 41, lor- 
ship 2H4 12106 (Q), standars LLL 43367 (Q), joyn{e)stoole{s) 

9 Perhaps, or probably, with an intentional pun, see p 116, above 

1 If this stands for mmd as suggested by the CaEd , p 108 , there is no phonological 
objection to such an interpretation 

2 The large number of such forms hardly favors the assumption that they are all 
misprints, though some no doubt are, e g , fame TC 2 3 253, shame 1H6 4 s 39, Table 
(babbled) H5 2 3 17, tawny fine fishes (tawny-finned) AC 2 5 12 Other cases, 
whether misprints or not, are acknowledge WT 4 4 430, appeare 2H4 4 i 36, better 
H 5 2274 (Q2), boile T s I 60, dumbe AC i 5 50, entertaine T 5 i 75, feare H 2 1 112, 
heare Cy S 5 64, imagine 2H4 42 19, league 0 23 218, learne R J i 5 144, measure J 
S S3 (retained by Kittredge), praise MWW 2 i 58, propose TmA 22 137, renowne 
3H6 575, repaie LLL 2 1 143 Rosaline AYL 1 3 i must be an error rather than a 
phonetic spelling 

CONSONANTS [d] AND [t] 299 

L 3 6 54 (Q), R J I 5 7 (but joyn*d stoole TS 2 1 199), JVtnsor(e) 2H4 
2 I 99 (Q)> 2H6 2 2 17 (Q), woones (wounds) TS 3 2 162, sounes 2H6 
469 (Q), souns Oil 108 (O), Richmons R3 5 3 176 (Q), Tharbor- 
ough (thirdborough) LLL i i 185, etc , hounds, rhyming with downs, 
and m Wensday C i 3 64, WT 44280, etc (also Wendsday RJ 3 4 17, 
etc ) , but kinreds 2H4 2 2 29, etc , and pitchers TN 3 i 39 are the orig- 
inal forms In granam (grandam) R3 221, 12, 20 (Qq) and canaries 
(quandaries, as pronounced by Mrs Quickly) MWW 2261 we notice 
the same assimilatory loss of d as in Lunnon (London), attributed to 
postmen {tahellani) by Gill (1621) but apparently in polite use far into 
the 19th century ^ It is, therefore, more than likely that Shakespeare 
omitted d in such inflected forms as ends, friends, offends, hands, stands, 
as well as in diamond, husband, thousand, etc ^ That he did not pronounce 
It in the syncopated form cardinal we know from his pun cardinal-carnal 
and indirectly from the malapropism cardinally (carnally) MM 2 i 81, 
which agree with Henslowe’s spellings carnalize), carnowlle, etc, for 
cardinal ^ 

An excrescent d often appears at the end of a word, particularly after 
I and n, as in wide (vile) H 2 2 iii, MND 1 1 232, etc , wld T i 2 358, 
etc , wVd O 2 3 256, etc , wider TmA 4 3 470, widest AC 2 2 243, etc , 
widely JC 43 133, etc {vile is almost consistently written with a d, but 
note vile widest S 71 4, in the same line), and sound (swoon) AYL 
5 2 29, LLL 5 2 392, MND 2 2 154, etc , swound AYL 3 5 17, JC i 2 253, 
etc , swoond C 5 2 107, swooned 2H4 4 5 234, etc Other instances are 
Allhallond-Eve MM 2 i 130 (cf Allhollown 1H4 i 2 177, with -n from 
the OE gen pi ending -ena, OED), beholds (behowls) ® MND 5 i 379, 
bold-beating ^ MWW 2 2 28, nine-fold (foal) ® L 3 4 126, jymold (gemel) 

3 Wyld, pp 301 ff But Burgome (Burgundy) 1H6 32 loi may reflect Fr Bour- 

4 Henslowe writes frenshtp(pe) , thows(s)en, and Jones (1701) omits d in al- 
mond, diamond, etc, commends, intends, etc, and friendly, friendship, grandam, 
landlord, etc (Ekwall, Jones, pp 51, 77) 

5 These are his variants carnall, carnalle, carnawll, carnawlle, camoll, carnowle, 
carnowll, carnowlle (i6x), carnowells 

6 See the explanation given on p 24, above 

7 An interesting interpretation by the CaEd , which has the merit of being phono- 
logically unassailable 

8 OED and most editors take nine-fold to be a substantival use of the adjective with 
the meaning ‘an attendant set of nine, found only m this passage and in Sir Walter 
Scott^s obvious paraphrase of it in Waverley (OED) Foal < OE fola, a weak m , 
may well have had a fossilized uninflected pi foal (cf the neuters deer, horse and the 
old fern gen Lady Day), which developed an excrescent d and was then confused 
with fold, as the hyphen would seem to indicate 



H5 4 2 49, rascald 2H6 2 4 47 (Q) , scnch-ould TC 5 10 16 (Q), synald 
(signal) 3H6 22100 (Q), holdsome (wholesome) LLL 52759 (Q), 
unholdsome RL 779, TC 2 3 129, bord (bore) H 4626 (Q2), visard 
R3 22 28, day-womand LLL i 2 136 (Q), disdaind TC i 2 35, legend 
(legion) MWW i 3 59/ milhond S 115 5/ rounding WT i 2 217, riband 
R J 3 I 32, turbonds Cy 3 3 6, venom! d-mouM d ^ H8 i i 120 Of particu- 
lar interest are the infinitives combind H5 2 i 114 (Q, combinde Q3), 
find (fine) H5 i 2 72, untwin'd 2H4 2 4 213 (untmnde Q), and the pr t 
pi tmn'd ^ VA 872 , as an infinitive we should perhaps also interpret to 
beguild RL 1544, which editors have wrestled with unsuccessfully^ The 
same addition of d is seen m the two puns wit-old-wittol (spelled wittold 
MWW 3 4 148, Q) and wild-mle Between n or I and r, a rf appears in 
chivaldry H5 46 19 (Q), kindreds R2 i 3 138, slovendry H5 43 114 
(Q), Standlie (Stanley) R3 5 3291 (Q), and similarly between n and 
s in jrendzies VA 740, but m handsaw (hernsaw) H 2 2 397 its insertion 
IS purely graphic, an inverted spelling on the pattern of handsome^ 
Herdforshire (Herefordshire) 1H4 i i 39 (Q) and Hertford (Here- 
ford) R3 42 92 (with d> t through assimilation) parallel Hartford Hu 
with the same etymology (< OE Hereford) ® 

Madam is monosyllabic in Cy 3 2 79, L 4 5 15, MV 5 i 133, TGV 

9 There is no pun here, as is suggested, e g , in the CaEd 

1 This IS undoubtedly the noun million and not a forced use of the adj millioned , 
milhond for million is common in modem dialects (OED) 

2 Taken by OED to be the sole instance of a compound adj venomed-mouthed^ 
which IS, of course, a possible explanation But compare with tongue mvenom'd 
speech H 22533 (Q) for with tongue in venom steept (Q2), which certainly looks 
like a case of mishearing or, at any rate, an attempt to make sense out of m venomd 
and a badly scribbled steept So the above venonCd need not be merely anticipatory 
of mouthed (dittography) but may actually reveal a pronunciation with final, ex- 
crescent d 

3 There is absolutely no justification for listing twind as a separate vb as done 
in OED, which explains it as an analogical formation from the pt and pie or by 
assimilation to wind ! 

4 Presumably on the strength of Heywood^s use of beguiled in “He his begiled 
bookes doth bayte” (OED), Kittredge explained Shakespeare^s form as “an ad- 
jective, meaning ‘furnished with, full of, guile* ’* (VarEd , p 244) , but how are 
we then to construe the following words “with outward honesty** ^ And why emend 
to to so, as Kittredge does, and not take it to be too"^ Since there is no mark of 
punctuation in 1 1544, which runs, “To me came Tar quin armed to beguild, ’ the 
interpretation of to beguild as the inf to beguile seems to fit the context quite well 
while offering no phonological difficulty and at the same time avoiding repunctuation 
and other kinds of emendation 

5 See my article “Five Shakespeare Notes,** pp 315 ff But hard (hare) TC 
2248, heard (hear) TS 3233* and earned (carry) P 4pr47 are probably misprints 

6 PN Bd and Hu, p 208, and DJSPjV 


4 3 4, etc , like modem ma'am, recorded from the 17th century (OED) 
but certainly much older In the disyllabic form of ladyship TGV 2 4 87, 
105, WT 2 2 46 the intervocalic d was probably lost as in Congreve's laship 
(OED), cf lakin {<ladyhn) m by'r lakin T 331, herlaken MND 

3 I 14 Monosyllabic needle Cy i i 168, J 52 157, MND 32204, P 

4 pr 23, RL 319, spelled neele P S pr 5, should probably be read [ni 1 ] or 
[mid], both common forms in the dialects, neele occurs frequently m 
Gammer Gurton's Needle, where it rhymes with jeele (i 3 23), while the 
metathesized form neeld is recorded from the 13th century on (OED) 

Eaily unvoicing of final d resulted in such forms as arrant (errand) AC 
3 13 104, C 5 2 65, ballet (ballad) LLL i 2 114, WT 4 4 263, etc , court- 
cubbert R J i 5 8 (Q2),^ gurnet 1H4 4 2 13, Lumbert streete 2H4 2 i 31 
(Q), sallet 2H6 4 109, sallets L 3 4 137 (cf the pun salad-sallef) , but 
halbert R3 i 2 40, herault (herald) MA 2 i 317, and reverent RJ 42 31 
(Q) back to early forms with -t (OED) ® Note also the inverted spell- 
ings Lombards (Lambert's) R2 i i 199 (Q2-3) and pallads 2H4 3 i 10 
{pallets Q) 

An excrescent f appears frequently at the end of words, particularly 
after n, as in assistants (assistance) LLL 5 1 128 (perhaps an inverted 
spelling), margent (margin) H 5 2 163 (Q2), LC 39, MND 2 i 85, etc , 
orphants H8 3 2 399, talent (talon) 1H4 2 4 363, tallents 3H6 i 4 41 
(Q), TNK I I 41 (also in the pun talon-talent), troiant (Troyan) 2H4 

2 4 181 (Q), and m carract (carrack) O i 2 50, holpt L 3 7 62 (Q , per- 
haps a blend of holp and helped), milkesopt R3 5 3 326 (Q), strijt AW 

5 3 338, chanc'd TmA 5 i 129 , but vant AC 469 represents vaunt (van), 
while distrestes (distresses), TGV 546 and unsisterd (unscissored) P 

3 3 29 are most likely misprints, with st for ss 

As in modern St E , f must have been silent m the clusters stl, sfn, ftn, 
to judge by such spellings as bnzled (bristled) C 2 2 96, bnssle H5 235, 
TN 153, brisly VA 620, bussle R3 i i 152, bussling JC 2 4 18, misselto 
TA 2 3 95, rushngs L 3 4 98 (Q), rushhng MWW 2 2 68, Peesel (Pistol) 
2H4 24174 (with a pun on pizzle), thissell MA 3476, 80, trass ell 
(throstle) MV i 2 65, Barson (Barston) 2H4 5 3 94, chessenut AYL 
34 12, TS I 2 210, and probably in monosyllabic often H8 4 i 29 and 
disyllabic oftner M 43 no, MND 2293 Other instances of intercon- 
sonantal loss of t are cursie MA 2 i 58, MV i i 13 (Q), TA 5 3 74, etc , 

7 Ciiherts MWW 33225 (Q), used by Evans, is perhaps rather a Welshman’s 
mispronunciation of cupboard , cf the puns words-worts and cod-cot Professor Orton 
believes, however, that [‘kAbot] is quite common in unguarded speech 

8 Mallet 2H4 2 4 263 is either mallet used metaphorically as in the saying ‘as sad 
as any mallet’ (OED) or a variant of mallard K.O'F malart as in Shakespeare’s 
phrase “like a doting mallard” AC 3 10 20 



catenckes (cataracts) L 322 (Q), insulment Cy 3 5 ^44^ 'instanly 
L 3323 (Q), promps TC 332 (also promp me RJ 2280), currence 
(currants) WT 4340, evens T 5 1227, ingredience (ingredients) M 
I 7 II, meanes (mints) MM 2448 (see p 215, above), these presence 
2H6 4 7 32 (and the pun presents-presence),^ actions (accents) C 3 3 55, 
questions (questants) TNK 5 3 17, and perhaps crysombd H5 2 3 12 (Q , 
Christome F), with confusion between chrisom-child and christened 
child ^ Gentleman is sometimes disyllabic as m AYL i 2 259, TGV 3 i 64, 
TS I 2 182, etc , forms indicating that the syncopated variant gemman 
was a colloquialism rather than a vulgarism , ^ the corresponding trisyl- 
labic gen'woman used by Ben Jonson in A Tale of a Tub 2 3 49 seems to 
occur in TGV 4 4 146, but the pronunciation of gentlewoman m 11 1 13 and 
185 of the same scene is hard to establish from the scansion 

Before s, t has disappeared in boson (boatswain) T 1 1 13, in Mrs 
Quickly's Wheeson (Whitsun) 2H4 2 i 97 (Q), in fleets with a pun on 
fleece, in freshes (freshets) T 3 2 75, and in the pi statues (statutes) MA 
3 3 84,^ whereas Swissers H 4 5 97 (Q2), a regular variant of Switzers 
(F), is derived from Swiss + er (OED) 

A final t has been dropped in comfor MND 2 2 38 (Q) and nigh H 
I 2242 (Q2), both probably misprints, and further m guesse (guest) * 
MWW 32 (Q), masse (mast) 2H4 31 18, vagrom (vagrant) MA 
3 3 26 (as pronounced by Dogberry), whereas graffe AYL 3 2 124, mis- 
graffed MND i i 137, waffe 2H6 41 114, 116 (Q), and hois' d R3 
44527 are old forms (OED) Both fall (fault) MWW i 1262 and 
fouler (falter) C 4 7 55 (see p 182, above) are most likely misprints, and 
so IS oft capt O I I 10 (Q) by the side of off-capt (F) The pple un- 
swept, rhyming with the inf leap, and the spelling strickest (strictest) 
R J 5 3 269 (Q) illustrate the common tendency m eNE and modern 
dialects to drop a final t after p and k,^ which may easily give rise to 

9 Ben Jonson rhymes diligence commandements, sense complements (van Dam 
Stoffel, p 82), and Hodges (1643) gives not only presents-presence as homonyms 
but also accidents-accidencef gallants-gallons^ patients-patience, etc OED, illogically, 
includes tngredience < ingredients as sense i of mgredience 

1 Kittredge, commenting on this expression (p 645), seems to have been unaware 
of the existence of chnsom and chrtsom child, for he interprets Chris om child in Bun- 
yan as 'child just christened ' 

2 First recorded by OED from about 1550 

3 For similar forms see OED Poopies H 32257 (Q), corresponding to puppets 
(F), IS not the latter word but puppy used in that sense as in modern dialects , this 
early instance has not been noted by OED 

4 Guess {e) is otherwise not uncommon as the pi of guest (OED) 

5 See Horn, §189, Sf Dial, §345 Hodges (1643) lists ask-a^ce’-acts and sex~^ects 
as homonyms 

CONSONANTS [d] AND [t] 303 

hypercorrect forms as perhaps m the above spellings carract, holpt, and 
mtlkesopt For couchtng-couchant and ramptng-rampant see pp loo, 268, 
above * 

Of great interest are the syncopated forms of the second person sg pr 
and p t of verbs ending in ? or d In the pr the final t of the ending st 
tends to disappear, particularly when followed by its pronoun or by 
another word beginning with a consonant, but this omission occurs 
sporadically also before a pause or when a vowel follows Thus we find 
meanes thou TC 5 ^ 3^ (Q j but meanest F) , starts thou 2H6 4 i 32, woulds 
thou R J 3 I 79 > O 4 2 176 (but do f test Q , doffest Q2 , dofftst 

Q3), descants better RL 1134, exacts thee MV 4 i 22 (Q, exact' st F), 
gets not 1H4 5 3 52 (Q), makes me O $2 64, mistakes me 2H6 5 i 130, 
pursues this H i 5 84 (Q2 , pursuest F), revisit es thus H i 4 53 (Qi~2, 
F), splits the MM 2 2 116, torments R2 4 i 270, etc , further affects a 
WT 44431 and solicit es here Cy i 6 147, both perhaps partly due to 
wrong agreement, affects AC 1371 (before a pause), requests R3 
2 I 98 (end of the line, the cluster stst being practically unpronounceable), 
fleet' st rhyming with sweets, confounds with sounds, and perhaps go'st 
with foes The consequent confusion with the third person sg resulted in 
the hypercorrect forms rewar dst he 42121 (Q) and scold' st TmA 
4 3 156 ® A similar loss of t has occurred in the superlatives perfects (per- 
fect'st) S 51 10, voydes (voidest) TNK3 i 36 {hut gallant' stT A i i 317) 
In the p t we find refts Cy 3 3 103, but it is more common for the tense- 
ending t {d) itself to drop out with st remaining as in hk'st O 3 3 109 
(Q, F), walkst ^ 1H4 3 I 255 (Q), look'st AC 3 3 21, unnpst R3 i 4 212 
(Q, F), suck'st TA 23144 (Q, F), 1H6 5428, stroakst T 12333, 
shoulst 2H6 2 4 81 (Q), woulst MWW 2231 (Q) , cf the same loss of 
d and t in guil'st (gild’st) S 28 12, mighst S 41 9, 96 ii, prevenst S 100 14 
Accountedst TS 4 3 183, which scansion and context prove to be account' st, 
and denied' st (deniest) 3H6 2 2 172 are inverted forms, and so are 
dofftst, dafts cited above Syncopations like these suggest that marshall' st 
M 2 I 42 might stand for marshall' dst, depending on how we wish to 
interpret the tense-sequence of that line 

The voicing of the medial t in portendous R J i i 148, spelled porten- 

6 But not stand st C 1 4 54 as suggested by van Dam-Stoffel, p 84 This is the 
context “Oh Noble Fellow • / Who sensibly out-dares his sencelesse Sword,/ And 
when it bowes, stand’st up Thou art left Martins ” The vacillation between out- 
dares, which may be the third person or the second person with loss of final t, and 
stand st, immediately followed by thou art, beautifully illustrates the unsettled usage 
of the day 

7 Oddy enough hk*st and walkst are retained in Kittredge^s edition, though they 
are clear cases of the p t Walkst (Q) corresponds to walk'st (F) 



t%ous (Q), may be due to association with portend Warrant, in the com- 
mon asseveration I warrant you, is reduced to warnd MND 5 i 326 (Q), 
warne AYL 4 i 77, and dialectal vor L 4 6 246 ® On the other hand we 
find t for d in pettigree 3 H6 3 3 92, 99 (Q) 

Musicke (muset) TNK 3 i 97 and Whickmore (Whitmore) 2H6 
4 I SD (Q) should probably be regarded as misprints But apricocks 
(apricots) MND 3 i 169 is the old form of the word before it was influ- 
enced by Fr abncot 

g and k 

Though symet (cygnet) J 5 7 21 and synald (signal) 3H6 2 2 100 (Q) 
may be errors due to the misreading of tgn as ym and yn, we should not 
forget that m, e g , signify modern dialects sound gn as [n] and [g] that 
spellings like singnett (cygnet), dyngnete (dignity), symfie, syngnyfie 
are recorded from the 14th to the i6th century (OED),^ and that Hodges 
(1643) lists Agnes and anise as homonyms ^ All these forms may there- 
fore be instances of sound-substitution or reflect the same reduction of 
medial gn as initially in gnaw 

An intermediate stage in the latter development, though of dialectal 
origin, may help to explain the unique word gnarled MM 22 116, ac- 
cording to OED the sole authority for this is the Folio of 1623, “whence 
it has come into general use in the present century In late ME and eNE 
there was a tendency for initial gn and kn to be leveled under the latter, 
as the spellings knatte (gnat) 4-6, knawyn (gnaw) 5, knawe 6, and, in- 
vertedly, gnaggid (knagged) 5, gnarre (knar) 5, 7 clearly show ® Gnarled 
may simply stand for gnarred < knarred or, if its I is original, be a blend 
of knar and snarl (vb i ) Indeed, gnarled may even be an inverted spell- 
ing of snarled, showing the leveling of [nn] < gn, kn and [sn] as in 
snaste < gnast ( < OE gnasf , cf the variants knast or gnaste listed m 
Prompt onum parvulorum) ^ 

8 See my articles m Sfudta Neophtlologtca, 11 (1938/39), 280 ff, and MLN, 
1942, pp 98 if 

9 EDGr, §364, Sf Dial, §363 

1 In the i6th century morality JVyt and Science the fool Ingnorance is subjected 
to a mock spelling exercise in true hornbook fashion , the first syllable of his name 
IS first identified with Ing in Ingland and then repeated several times as ing, yng — a 
better indication of its pronunciation can hardly be desired 

2 Prompionum parvulorum (c 1440) gives it as Anneyce, other early forms 
being Annts, Annys, Annats, see Withycombe 

3 See Mather Flint, pp 148 f , and Language, 21 (1945), 84 f 

4 When discussing the reduction of mitial kn and gn in Mather Flint and Language 


The complete, or almost complete, reduction of initial kn to n at that 
time IS proved by the puns knack-neck, knave-nave, knight-mght, knob- 
nob, knot-not, and known-none The sound used by many speakers may 
actually have been [nn], whose first element, the voiceless glide [n], was 
bound to disappear in a phrase either by being merged into a preceding 
voiceless consonant as in this knave or by becoming voiced through pro- 
gressive assimilation as in we are knozm ® Initial gn was either [gn] or, 
more likely, [n] ® 

Intervocalic k has disappeared in the contracted form taken, usually 
written tane RJ 3 5 17, TGV 3 i 232, etc , or tatne L 5 2 6 (Q), O 3 3 296 
(Q), mtstaine R J 5 3 203, and rhyming with slatn In augward P 5 i 94 
and th'argaman (Hyrcanian) H 22472 (Q) the medial k appears to 
have been voiced Concerning Mtghell (Michael) 1H4 441 (Q), etc, 
see OED 

Perfit L I 2 77 (Q), verdit MWW i 4 (Q), viflars 2H4 2 4 375 are 
older forms, and so is cednle (schedule) RL 1312, sednle LLL i i 18 
(Q), MV 2955 (Q), spelled scedule (F) and shediile (Q2), etc For 
the confusion of carat and char act, reflected in charract 2H4 4 5 162 
(spelled karrat Q) and chared CE 4 i 28, see OED Some kind of popu- 
lar etymology is responsible for the form porpenttne (porcupine) 2H6 
3 I 363, which Shakespeare actually uses seven times, four of those as 
the sign of an inn (OED) The rhyme fickle brittle may, as pointed out 
above, be a case of assonance or involve the parallel form bnckle , cf the 
variants heckles (Q), bettles (Q2), beetles (F) H i 471, which seem to 
reveal the common vacillation between kl and tl as in tlean for clean ^ 
In Rathff (Ratcliff) R3 5 3 66 (Qq, throughout) k has very naturally 
disappeared between t and I For the doublets taskt 1H4 4392 (Q, 
task't F) and taxed, s picket MWW i 3 24 (Q) and spigot see OED 

(see preceding note), I overlooked this highly significant word snaste, which proves 
the existence of the stage [nn] in those dialects that leveled kn and gn, and conse- 
quently also the use of this sound-combination as one phase of the reduction of h 
to [n] , cf snock for knock in Brk, Do, and So (EDGr, §323), and sn for initial kn 
in Shetland Norn {Language, 21, 79) 

5 Milton’s my known offence (Samson Agomstes 1218) may well be a mistake for 
mine own which Milton dictated as my nown and his amanuensis heard as my known 
Note also the 16th-century inverted spelling knowch for ME nouche modern ouch 
(as in owches 2H4 2 4 53) 

6 See further Language, 21 (i945)» 77-^6 

7 EDGr, §§335, 345, Sf Dial, §§183, 349 



gh m hght, thought, etc 

When Holofernes lashed out against those ‘'msociable, and poynt de- 
vise companions” who used to say nebour instead of n-e-i-g-h-b-o-u-r and 
ne instead of n-e-t-g-h (LLL $ i 25 f ), he took up the cudgels for a 
conservative type of pronunciation adhered to at the turn of the century 
by a fast dwindling group of speakers Some of the orthoepists, whom 
Holofernes no doubt is meant to caricature, for instance, Hart (1570), a. 
Devonshire man, and Gill ( 1621 ) , who hailed from Lincolnshire, had been 
familiar with the palatal and velar fricative from childhood and clearly 
made a virtue of necessity by identifying their dialectal phoneme with 
this obsolescent usage and teaching it as the only correct pronuncia- 
tion ® The inconsistent treatment of gh by other contemporary orthoepists ® 
argues strongly for the assumption that they were stubbornly holding on 
to and trying to keep alive what the average Londoner, and southern 
speakers in general, had discarded long ago For in the colloquial language 
of England south of the Humber gh had ceased to be pronounced in 
the isth century, as spellings and rhymes conclusively show (Jordan, 

§§294 f ) 

It IS not in the least surprising, therefore, that we should find in 
Shakespeare spellings like h%e (high) TC 22113, VA 551, etc, lyte 
(light) TC 128, tyte T 51224, nabored H 2212 (Q2, neighbour'd 
i)ySlowM}N'SN' 4569 {Q,slough'F),way{d) H i 3 17, 29 {Q2),ship* 
writes H I 1 75 (Q2), and conversely bight (bite) AYL 27185, 

8 This IS probably one aspect of Harfs eclecticism discussed in my article “John 
Hart and Early Standard English,” pp 243 He was anxious “to take the best and 
leave the worst,” and since his native phoneme for gh happened to coincide with the 
one used by conservative speakers in London, this was inevitably the best pronun- 
ciation For the peculiar development of gh in Devon see the above-mentioned paper, 
pp 247 f According to Ellis, p 676, the palatal fricative [g] occurred in south- 
western Nb in the 1870*3, while according to Orton the velar fricative [x] still sur- 
vives in the Calder Valley, YW 

9 For Bullokar’s practice see Zachnsson, p 17, for Butler’s (1634) Eichler, 
§140, and for Hodges’ (1644) Kauter, §§86 f Hodges, whose usage was quite modern 
in this respect, lists, e g , nte-right-^m'ite, cife^sightsttey and watt-wetght as homo- 
nyms Ben Jonson, who must have been indoctrinated by someone like Gill, appar- 
ently retained an aspiration in might, night, etc , where he says in his Grammar “the 
g sounds just nothing” Robert Sherwood (1632), Londoner but born in Norfolk, 
sums up the situation very neatly in these words “/p/i, est prononce diversement , ou 
comme il est escrit, laquelle est la plus ancienne & (comme je croy) la vraye prola- 
tion, ou comme Ei dipthongue (prononciation moderne & fort usitee a Londres & 
ailleurs) Tellement que Night, fight, light, sight, might, right, &c sont prononcez 
neit, felt, leit, seit, meit, reit, &c ” See Otto, p 300 

CONSONANTS [h] AND [j] 307 

htgh-day (hey-day) T 22190-1, etigh (yew) R2 3 2117, convetgh 
3550 (Q), high thee R2 5122, higher (hire) C 2 3 121, 
qmght TNK 5 4 36, spight RJ i i 85, spnght MND 5 i 400, etc , or 
that words like bright, fiqht, knight, light, night, etc , should rhyme with 
bite, sprite, zvhite, write, etc , high with die, dry, eye, etc , sighs with eyes, 
thigh with he, bough with now, though with so, through with do, ensue, 
daughter with halter after, etc (see Rhyme Index) , and that white could 
pun on wight In other words, Shakespeare's usage was quite modern, 
except for the rhyme oft naught PP 1841-2, which, if the poem is 
Shakespeare's, may well be traditional or reflect a variant of naught with 
-ft ^ Mrs Quickly 's tight 1H4 3 3 66 (Qq, Ff) for tithe, if not a misprint, 
may be compared with Henslowe's trewght (tiuth), broth (brought), 
candelithe, which suggest confusion between the spirant and [9] or per- 
haps the same change of final [0] > [t] as reflected in moth (see p 320, 
below) , an analogical [t] in tithe, as in fift, sixt, etc , is perhaps a pos- 

The rhymes draff laugh, coffe Ioffe (cough laugh), enough Mac- 
duff, off, and buffe ruffe (buff rough) show the same agreement with 
present-day usage in the treatment of gh So do the spellings coffe 
O 4 2 29 (Q), coffing RJ 3 i 28, ruffe (rough) L 3 4 2 {Q), rough (roof) 
MV 3 2 204 (Q), and those used in the rhymes just cited Note also boxes 
WT I 2 244 

h and 3; 

From the isth century on we can witness a general tendency for initial 
h to be dropped in fully stressed words of Germanic origin, and con- 
versely, for an inorganic h to be added to such words beginning with a 
vowel But no clear picture can be obtained of the distribution and scope 
of this sound-change For one thing, the early material is quite spotty and, 
moreover, none too abundant ^ Secondly, the data supplied by Ellis and 
Wright from modern dialects are far from reliable ^ On the other hand, 

1 This may have been current m London at the time, for Hodges couples ought 
and oft as pronounced alike, while Chapman rhymes wrought aloft, soft For similar 
forms in the 17th century and earlier see Wyld, p 288 Dialectal / is reported from K, 
Ha, D, Do, So, and the north (EDGr, §359) 

2 See Jordan, §293, and Wyld, pp 294 ff 

3 According to Wright, EDGr, §357, initial h has disappeared everywhere south 
of the Humber Yet my own investigations have shown that, with certain well-defined 
exceptions, it is retained in Sf (Sf Dial , §§221, 368), and Professor Orton tells me 
that this IS the case also at Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex For the more unstable situa- 
tion in Dorset see Widen, §83 



recent investigations have confirmed that dropping of h's is a feature of 
the present Wa dialect, though of course this practice need not have pre- 
vailed three hundred and fifty years ago Very likely it did, however, for 
the best early evidence of the loss of h is to be found m texts from the 
West Midland area (Sa and Wa) 

The implication that Shakespeare perhaps used to drop his h's has 
nothing startling or derogatory in it As a matter of fact, the correct use of 
h had not yet become a shibboleth of gentility Its omission was simply a 
colloquialism comparable to the loss of d and t discussed above, one that 
Shakespeare would almost certainly have picked up anyhow on settling 
down in London, for that most conspicuous feature of modem Cockney, 
the dropping of A's, was then merely the local offshoot of the general 
tendency just referred to Yet we cannot say how consistent or stable this 
local usage actually was Nor can we ascertain today to what extent it had 
penetrated into the fashionable speech of the period Here colloquialisms 
jostled for supremacy with conservative or artificial pronunciations in- 
spired by the spelling and inculcated by zealous orthoepists — ^witness 
Holofernes’ insistence on the pronunciation of the unetymological h in 
ahhomtnaUe LLL 5 i 27 

A weak articulation of imtial h or its complete disappearance is to be 
inferred from several puns m Shakespeare, viz , Arden^-harden, art- 
hearty ear-herCy eat-hatey hetr-hair, heir apparent-here apparenty here- 
yeary hour-zvhore, and perhaps Htren-Irene-hinng But all these are not 
absolutely identical cases In some the full pronunciation of h would 
probably not have destroyed the intended pun, eg, in Arden-hardeuy 
art-hearty whereas in others the omission of h seems essential, as in 

The orthographic evidence includes such forms as an happy J 3 2 10, 
an hayre T i 2 30, an hundred H8 5 r 171, JC 2277, etc, fhave H 
3 1 169, S 138 12, etc , fhold M 3 6 44, th'harmony T 3 i 41, tVhoorded 
C 4211 (for the last two see p 275, n 4, above), thhrcaman (Hyr- 
canian) H 2 2 472 (Q2 , tVargaman Q), Ercles (Hercules) MND i 2 31, 
and the inverted spellings howlet (owlet) M 4 i 17, TNK 3 5 67, proba- 
bly through assimilation to howly^ and histy (yeasty) H 5 2 199 (Q2) 
Shagge-ear'd M 4283 probably stands for shag-hair^ d y cf shag-hayr'd 
2H6 3 I 367 

Imtial h was also silent in Romance words like an Hebrew TGV 2 5 57, 

4 OED derives hoidet from Fr hulottey which is phonologically impossible, though 
the 16th-century variant hulet must go back to that etymon, howlet, with [au], 
should be explained as above or, alternatively, as a blend of owlet and the variant 
htdet * 

CONSONANTS [h] AND [j] 309 

an heretique J 3 i 175, etc , an hoast 2H6 3 i 342, an hostesse TC 3 3 253, 
an humble JC 3 i 35, etc 

In an unstressed position particles like he, his, her, have, etc , normally 
lost their h, as in is a (is he) 2H6 42 125, alVs (all his) AYL 5 2 17, 
would a thought H 3 2 36 (Q), h'as (he has) TN 5 i 178 and the rhymes 
dinner win hei , encounter mount her 

Medial h has disappeaied in the disyllabic (contracted) forms Abra^ 
hams R3 4338, spelled Abram MV 1373 (cf Henslowe’s spelling 
abrame & lotte), and vehement J i i 254, etc (see p 375, below), wiit- 
ten vement in Shelton’s Tachygraphy (1641),® note also vehemency 
MWW 2 2 247 discussed on p 323, below Other examples are exale Hs 
2 I 66 (Qq), dung ell (dunghill) L 3 797 (Q), with which compare the 
jingle ad dunghill-ad unguent, the rhvmes mistrusting them Buckingham, 
freedom need ^em, both with ^em < hem, and the jingle Pelican— Pilhcock 

For hoope H5 2 2 108, etc , and whoop, hwhng H i 5 133 {whurhng 
Q2) and whirling see OED The use of ivh for h in whoo-bub (hubbub) 
WT 4 4 628 and whoord (hoard) 2H4 4 3 125 (Q) parallels that of wk 
in whole ® 

A prosthetic [j] appears in Yedward 1H4 1 2 149, Yead MWW i i 160, 
yeere (ear) 2H4 i 2 218 (Q), yeares TA 2 3 160 (Q), and in L with a 
pun on yell On the other hand an original [j] has apparently disappeared 
in histy (yeasty) H 5 2 199 (Q2), which should be compared with the 
homonyms east-yeast in Hodges (1643) with [j]-less forms of yeast 
in the dialects of Do, O, Sx, also in eyld (yield) H5 441 (Q), God- 
eyld M I 6 13, God hid you AYL 5 4 56, goddild you AYL 3 3 76, God 
diVd you H 4 5 41, which agree with Gill’s (1621) ild, by the side of ytld, 
and dialectal [1 Id] With regard to the puns ears-years (given as homo- 
nyms in Hodges) and her e-year we cannot say for certain whether a [j ] 
was added to ear or omitted in year , the latter alternative seems the more 
likely one in view of the frequent dialectal loss of [ j ] in year, which may 
also be evidenced in good-ier’^ (goodyear) MWW i 4 129 (otherwise 
good-yeere 2H4 2 4 63, etc ) A similar loss of unstressed [j ] has oc- 
curred in Godgigoden R J i 2 58, etc , and in God bu'y O i 3 189 (Qq), 
for which see p 329, below ® The etymology of erne (earn) H5 2 3 2, 4, 
earnes JC 2 2 129 is uncertain , see earn and yearn, OED 

5 See Studia NeopJnlologtca, 7 (i934/3S), 79, 144 

6 See OED, wh, and Horn, §§96, 257 

7 This form is ambiguous, perhaps for its % may stand for modern in which 
case we have instead an instance of assibilation, with [dj] > [ds] , cf p 317, below 

8 The omission and addition of [j] in eNE has been dealt with by Kihlbom, pp. 
77 ff But see also Sj Dial , §372, and Studia Neophtlologica, 7 (1934/35), I45 1 



Change of suffixes accounts for jeaUous R3 i i 92 by the side of jealous 
(Qq) and for lawers RJ i 4 73 (Q), a form used also in the pun lawyer- 
lower, other examples will be found on p 291, above 
Poptngay 1H4 i 3 50 is the older form of the word, which has become 
popinjay through association with jay (OED) 

Though ME eu was undoubtedly [ju ] m Shakespeare’s time (see 
p 209, above), the indefinite article usually retained its traditional form 
an before words like eunuch AC i 5 10, etc , umon H 5 2 283 (but a union 
MND 3 2 210), umverscdl JC i i 49, usurer TmA 4 3 112 (but a usunng 
kindnesse TmA 4 3 516) 


The cult of the spelling had many zealots in the Elizabethan era A few 
of them we happen to know from their published works, but their ma- 
jority, the anonymous masters of village and city schools, left nothing to 
posterity except a goodly number of spelling-pronunciations As a repre- 
sentative of that unnamed but influential group we may regard Shake- 
speare’s Holofernes, whose orthoepic precepts might well have been pro- 
pounded by the great Alexander Gill (1564-1635), Mulcaster’s successor 
in 1608 as headmaster of St Paul’s School Holofernes abhorred those 
'^phanaticall phantasims” who called a calf c-a-u-j-e and half h-a-u~f-e 
(LLL 5 I 25), that IS, pronounced these words without the I as today and 
with [a ], [d ] or [se ] Alexander Gill, while admitting the preponder- 
ance of the colloquial pronunciation of folk, fault, balm, half, talk, walk, 
etc , without the I, nevertheless maintained that many learned men pro- 
nounced this I in reading and sometimes m speaking ® The fact that Shake- 
speare took the trouble to satirize such pedantry reveals what he thought 
of It He favored the colloquial type of pronunciation, even if at times he 
used archaic forms m his rhymes We are therefore fully justified in 
assuming, on the strength of rhymes like hawk balk (spelled bank), 
talk halt, and slaughter halter after, that he left out the / not only 
in balk, talk, walk but m halt and halter , ^ and the spellings bauk RL 696 
(cf the above rhyme), stauke{s) H i i 50, 66 (Q2) confirm this as- 

A small number of words that seem to have lost their preconsonantal I 

9 Logonomia Anghca, p 15 But Gill’s predecessor Mulcaster used no 1 in calm, 
balm, talk, walk, chalk, calf, calves, salves, pronouncing them as if they were written 
cawm, bawm, etc (pp 142 f ) 

I Mulcaster (1582) reports the loss of I in shalt, malt, halt, and Wallis (1653) 
does so m tnalt, salt, shalt, see Mulcaster, p 142, and Lehnert, §§179 ff 


actually go back to OF forms without any I These are jmch{%)on (fal- 
chion) L 5 3 276 (Q), RL 1626 (but faulchen 3H6 i 4 12, Q), Faucon- 
bridge LLL 2142, MV 1271, fankners (falconers, with n = u) H 
22450 (Q2), Rafe (Ralph) 2H4 3 2 109, TS 4 i 139, soader (solder) 
AC 3 4 32, vawHng (vaulting) H5 5 2 142, Water (Walter) 2H6 4 i 115 
(in 11 31-^ with a pun on water), Fits-Water R2 4 i SD, and the rhyme 
chawdron cawdron Shakespeare's rhyme /aw/t is ambiguous because 

of the above talk halt ^ 

On the other hand, the I in salvages (savages) T 2 2 60 comes from 
OF salvage, a variant of sauvage, perhaps also partly fiom Lat salvatico 
(OED) Saltiers WT 44334 is either a misprint of satyrs or a mala- 
propism Alablaster MV i i 84, O 5 2 5, etc , with an excrescent I, the 
common idth-iyth-century spelling, may as OED suggests be due to con- 
fusion with alablaster < ar blaster For Dolphin 1H6 i i 92, etc , and 
Daulphin J 3 i 311 as variants of Dauphin see the latter word in OED 

Other instances of the loss of I are cansfick (candlestick) 1H4 3 i 131 
(Q), well evidenced from the i6th and 17th centuries (OED), owd 
O 2 399 (Q, awVd F), holp punning on hope and spelled hop'st R3 
4 4 45, Suffolk with a pun on suffocate, and Sutton cophill (Sutton Cold- 
field) < OE col 'charcoal' and jeld (its medial d is a late insertion, due to 
mistaken derivation from cold) ® The disappearance of I in disyllabic gen- 
tleman as m WT i 2 391, etc , has been dealt with on p 302, above Bristow 
(Bristol) 2H6 3 I 328 IS the old form of the name (< OE brycgstdw) 

A confused situation must have obtained in regard to the use of I m 
could, should, would, shalt, wilt As early as the 15th century loss of I 
IS evidenced in weakly stressed should, would, and shalt ^ Could first ap- 
pears with its excrescent I about 1525 (OED), but this originally in- 
verted Spelling showing the loss of I m should, would soon resulted in a 
spelling-pronunciation [ku( )ld], used, eg, by Hart (1570), Gill (1621), 
and Hodges (1643) The practice of Hodges is most illuminating In The 
English Primrose ( 1644) he teaches both [u Id] and [ud] in coidd, 
should, would, but at the same time his list of "Most plain and familiar 
words" gives only the latter pronunciation in could, would (pp 39, 115, 
and Kauter, §§45, 81) , yet in A Special Help to Orthographic (1643) 
we find could-cooled linked as homonyms as against wood-would Evi- 

2 Fault IS derived from OF faute (OED) Gill (1621) says that fault is quite 
frequently pronounced [fat], though “docti aliqui viri” say [fait] (p 15) 

3 PN Wa, pp 49, 12 

4 Jordan, §292 Ben Jonson, who rhymes would good, says in his English Gram- 
mar (Herford-Simpson, 8 , 516) “Verbes are oft-times shortned as Sayest sest 
would, woud should, shoud holpe, hope ” 



dently at that time the retention of [1] and fu ] in could, should, would 
was both a survival of the old stressed form and a pedantic concession 
to the orthography , the normal colloquial pronunciation, however, was 
[kud], etc , with [ksd] as the new unstressed form Shakespeare’s rhyme 
could should proves nothing, but cooled should either implies the use 
of this obsolescent variant [fu Id] or is merely an eye rhyme taken over 
from earlier poets ® For the pun wooed-would and the spellings twoo^d 
TC 33 256, two'od TC 2 3229 (Q), wou'd Cy 5 5 140, shoud MND 
3 2 348 (Q) reflect the current usage of the day, note particularly Would 
you wood helpe me to heare %t MWW 2 2 178 (Q) So do the numerous 
instances of weak forms like Fde, thou'dst, he'd, sometimes written Fid, 
thould'st, hee'ld, whose Id is a purely graphic device to prevent confu- 
sion with contractions of I had, etc The same loss of I is evidenced in shat 
MND 3 2 426 (Q), woo't (wilt) AC 4 2 7, 4 IS 59, H 5 I 297-8 (sx), 
which becomes wot (4x) 2H4 2 i 63 (Q) in Mrs Quickly’s speech (for 
these forms see p 215, above) , note also th'owt (thou wilt) H 5 i 297 
(Q2, thou'lt F) and thou't TmA 1 1 195, with the weak form of wolt < 

The Clown’s argali H 5 1 13 is an amusing malapropism for argo < 
ergo, with its final [0 ] misunderstood as a reduced form of all (see p 181, 
above) In dowlney, dowlne 2H4 4 5 32, 33 we seem to have a blend of 
dowl and downy But childe (chide) R J 3 3 162 (Q), mlde (wide) TGV 
2 7 32, and Oosell (Ossa) H 5 i 306 (Q) are doubtless misprints 

m, n, and ng 

The three consonants [m] , [n] , and [ij] rhyme with one another, e g , 
him been, long on, come sung, but this time-honored practice has, of 
course, no bearing on their pronunciation Indeed, there is no major dif- 
ference between Shakespeare’s usage and that of modem St E , unless we 
choose to characterize as such the regular substitution of [in] or [n] for 
suffixal -mg (see below) 

The use of n in randon (random) S 147 12, VA 940 stems from its 
etymon, OF randon , our modern form of the word shows assimilation to 
the ending -dom Abstemous T 4 i 53, like abstemous a 16th-century 
vanant of abstemious (OED), has been influenced by abstain, while re- 

5 Spenser rhymes could hehould bold, fold, gould, hold, mamfold mould, should 
would, should behould, could, dtfould, gold, hould, mould, would, and would behold, 
hold, could, folds, gold, hould, mamfold, mould, old, should, told, unfold, untold Sim- 
ilar rhymes are used by Guilpxn, in TotteVs Miscellany, and other 16th-century verse 

CONSONANTS [m], [n], AND [g] 313 

nowm{e)d 1H4 3 2 107 (Q), RJ 3 5 62 (Q2), etc , is regularly developed 
from OF renotmier, though today refashioned on the analogy of the sb 
renown < OF renon (OED) An excrescent n appears m P dentine 
(Palatine) MV i 249 — cf dialectal and vulgar skehnton — and m Mrs 
Quickly’s malapropism contigian (quotidian) H5 2 i 124 through asso- 
ciation with the prefix con- (no [w] was used m quotidian) 

Loss of final n has occurred after I in kill-hole MWW 4 2 59, WT 
4 4 247, hme-kill MWW 3 3 86,® after m in hmming (limning) VA 290 
and in hymn as shown by the inverted spelling himnes for htm's (him 
[who] is) P I 474 and by the possible rhyme hymn tomb dumb, fur- 
ther after r in postures (pasterns) H5 3 7 13 and in dialectal vore < war- 
rant, cf Henslowe’s spelling lermonger (ironmonger) In melancholy, 
spelled malhcholie LLL 4315, 16 and alhcholy MWW i 4 164, n was 
commonly left out in the I4th-i6th centuries (OED) 

Nunckle Li4ii7isa typical case of wrong division, with n trans- 
ferred from mine m mine uncle , so is an ayword (a nayword) TN 2 3 145 
with n detached from the noun as in modern adder < a nadder This 
process will explain burthen are CE 5 i 402 for burthen ne'er Note also 
your a nasse H5 4 i 214 (Q) 

In Shakespeare's day the current colloquial pronunciation of final -ing 
in hunting, shilling was [in] or [n] and had been so for nearly two hun- 
dred years ® Though at one time this substitution of n for ng was, as Wyld 
says (p 289), almost universal in every type of English speech, the ortho- 
epists seem to be unaware of it until the latter half of the i8th century , 
Hodges, who teaches [ig] for-zw^in The English Primrose (1644), never- 
theless couples beholdmg-beholden, couglmig-coffin, cummin-coming, 
jerking-] erkin, and pulhng-pullen as homonyms in A Special Help to 
Orthographic (1643), whereas Cooper (1685) appears to have used 
[ig] in kitchen, Tomalin and probably then also m coffin, cummin, jerkin, 
said to be pronounced like coughing, coming, jerking (pp 1 12 f , 66, 77 f ) , 
for Hodges’ usage see Kauter, §85 The silence of the orthoepists is a sign 
of their disapproval of a pronunciation that they must have regarded as 
slipshod because of its capricious deviation from the established orthog- 
raphy But some 17th-century shorthand authors had no such qualms 

6 Hodges (1643) gives kill and kiln as homonyms According to Jones, English 
Pronouncing Dictionary, [kil] appears to be used today only by those concerned with 
the working of kilns 

7 See my explanation in “Alexander Gill,’* pp 281 ff , and “Elizabethan che vore 
yef' pp 100 f 

8 See Wyld, pp 289 f, Lmck, §767, and particularly Orton, §§257! Henslowe 
wntes, eg, belongme, bellensgate, brtngen, stocken{e)s, tenneshellens And Gammer 
Gurtpn^s Needle i 5 26-7 has the rhyme makyng taken 



They found the colloquial pronunciation a natural expedient of abbrevia- 
tion and accordingly simplified -mg to -m ® Shakespeare, too, made use 
of the colloquial pronunciation when he had his fellow actors pun on 
eaten and eating, moimtain-‘mounting, reason-rmsing, person-piercing, 
parsing, couchant-conching, potent-potting, and rampant— ramping The 
spellings tell the same story blush-in (blushing) LLL i 2 106, Bullen- 
brooke 1H4 i 3 229, 246 (Q), Bulhnbrook R2 2 2 60, etc , Poprin (Pep- 
pering) R J 2 I 38, Readins (Reading) MWW 4 5 80, and with unetymo- 
logical -ing, beholding (beholden) JC 3 2 73, MV i 3 106, TGV 44 178, 
cushings (cushions) L 3636 (Q), friskms (friskings) ^ TNK 4388, 
javehngs (javelins) VA 616, napking (napkin) TA 3 i 146 (Q) Con- 
fusion between monosyllabic being, knowing on one hand and been, known 
on the other accounts for been (being) P 2 3 82 and known (knowing) 
Cy I 6 97 , similarly moulten 1H4 3 i 152 stands for moulting and chidden 
O 2 I 12 for chiding (Qq), or vice versa, whichever reading we prefer ^ 
The relevant rhymes, however, are traditional, e g , burying king, flat- 
tering king, jorjeiting bring, ordering sing, sonneting thing They 
prove nothing concerning the pronunciation of suffixal -mg, however, 
since [in] could rhyme with [ig] Yet it seems a reasonable assumption 
that m such cases, with the ending -mg under metrical stress, the preferred 
pronunciation was [ig] 


^The dog’s letter,” ^ says Ben Jonson in his Grammar, '‘hurreth in the 
sound, the tongue striking the inner palate, with a trembling about the 
teeth It IS sounded firme in the beginning of the words, and more liquid 
in the middle, and ends , as in rarer, riper'* , and he adds, more like an 
afterthought, “And so in the Latine ” This is the very first intimation from 
a grammarian or orthoepist that the articulation of r was not the same 
medially and finally as it Was initially , not until a hundred years later, in 
Mather Flint’s Prononciation de la langue angloise (1740), do we next 
hear of two variants of r, then the preconsonantal and final r is repeatedly 
said to be almost silent ^ Like other grammarians before and after him Ben 

9 Matthews, English Pronunciation and Shorthand, p 191 

1 I see no reason for making this a separate word, fnskin, and explaining it as an 
m-extension of frisk, as is done m OED 

2 The MS spelling may have been the ambiguous chtden But written (writing) 
LLL 4 2 141 IS clearly a case of dittography, anticipating the following written in the 
same line 

3 A translation loan from Lat httera camna Cf RJ 2 4218-23 

4 See Mather Flint, pp 152 ff The weakenmg of intervocalic r m English toward 


Jonson describes what may well have been a trilled initial r, a sound still 
recommended by elocutionists and teachers of singing ® Yet his specific 
reference to the articulation of the tongue against the inner palate, though 
not incompatible with the formation of a retracted variety of the trilled 
r,® might with even greater justification be said to apply to a strongly 
fricative r, perhaps recently developed from the tolled variety Whatever 
was the precise quality of initial r in Shakespeare’s and Jonson’s pro- 
nunciation, their medial and final r was certainly a different sound, ‘'more 
liquid” according to Jonson This may mean the flapped variety between 
vowels, and a vocalized sound [o], with or without a fricative off-glide, 
at the end of a word as in riper, and probably also before another con- 
sonant Because of his Warwickshire origin Shakespeare must have used 
instead a retroflex r medially and finally, and I doubt very much that 
he ever bothered to exchange it for the very weak preconsonantal sound 
that, in my opinion, was characteristic of contemporary London speech 
If, on the other hand, r was already silent before other consonants — ^and 
there is a good deal of evidence that it was — ^then we are faced with the 
problem whether or not on the stage actors endeavored to pronounce the r 
in a preconsonantal and final position Some of them may, in fact, have 
done so either from personal conviction that each letter should be pro- 
nounced somehow or in conformity with rules for precise enunciation laid 
down by those letter-worshiping men who once taught them to read and 
write But others no doubt left out the r here as they had been accustomed 
to do from childhood It is hard to imagine that any uniform practice pre- 
vailed in this respect on the Elizabethan stage 

Wyld (pp 198 if ) has collected a considerable body of evidence in- 
dicating the loss of preconsonantal r in eNE, and this is confirmed by 
many i6th- and 17th-century rhymes ^ Indeed, before s the disappearance 
of r had begun as early as the 14th century (Jordan, §166), and the fol- 
lowing spellings from Shakespeare are therefore not particularly remark- 
able accust M 43107, jashions (farcin) TS 3253, gosse (gorse) T 

the end of the i6th century may be inferred from a comparison made by Bellot in 
The French Methode (1588) , he says that rr between vowels was stronger m French 
than in English, and that in French it “must be sounded shaking the tongue with ve- 
hemence” (quoted from Jespersen, Grammar, §1111) 

5 Jones, English Phonetics, §751 The trilled r is frequently used by the late Sir 
Johnston Forbes-Robertson Shakespearean Recital (records made by the Columbia 
Graphophone Co ), not only initially as in rogue and after consonants as in drab 
but even at times before consonants as in fortune, remorseless and between vowels as 
in torrent 

6 Jespersen, Lehrbuch der Phonettk, §3 72 

7 See Mather Flint, pp 156 f, and Bidlokar, p 116. 



4 1 180, sacenet (sarsenet) TC 5 i 36 (Q), tashan (tertian) Hs 2 i 124, 
wost LLL I I 283 (Q), woosted L 22 17, and, with an excrescent r, 
bore-spntf T i 2 200, forset-seller (faucet-) C 2 i 79, gimmors (gemels) 
1H6 I 241, Tharstis (Thasos) JC 5 3 104, tortoyrs (tortoise) RJ 5 i 42 
They suggest that forms like [fASt], [wASt], [uas] (first, worst, nurse), 
which are taught, e g , by Watts (1721), were heard on the Elizabethan 
stage The loss of r is, however, evidenced before other consonants as 
well, both in stressed and unstressed syllables As conclusive we may 
regard berod (bearherd) 2H4 1 2 192 (Q), handsaw (hernsaw) H 
2 2 397, sapego (serpigo) MM 3 i 31, spelled suppeago TC 2 3 81, and 
allegater RJ 5143 (Q2, F), spelled ahgarfa (Q) < Sp a/ lagarto, 
whereas depature R3 5 3 230 (Q) gafer (garter) MWW i 1 143, como- 
rant TC 2 26 are more doubtful, further the inverted spellings Gertrard 
H 3 I 28 (Q2, Gerterd, Gertred Q), tncarnardine M 2 2 62, with which 
compare Henslowe’s carnardyn, snurff (snuff) L 46 39 (Q), and curte- 
lax AYL I 3 119, curtleax H5 4221, a folk-etymological corruption of 
cutlass < OF coutelas, and swarths (swaths) TN 2 3 162, which shows 
confusion with szvarth due to lengthening (and rounding) of the vowel m 
swath, and loss of r in swarth 

Only two rhymes in Shakespeare indicate loss of r, jorsworn John and 
earth death, the latter has been discussed on p 252, above Note also 
the interesting rhyme highest degree dyr^sf degree, linking [hoist] with 
[doi(j:)st] , and the possible pun Ford-jood ® 

An inorganic r appears at the end of the word in allegater RJ 5 i 43 
(Q2, F) and Althear 2H4 2 2 96 (Q), revealing, I think, the weak articu- 
lation of r in such position, so does the Frenchman’s gar (God) MWW 
I 4 1 14, for which see p 226, above 

Metathesis of r is found m aporne 2H6 2 3 75, cestron (cistern) TNK 

5 I 46 , such pronunciations, mentioned by Cooper ( 1685) , Watts ( 1721 ) , 
and Flint (1740), survive in modem dialects ® Pomgarnet (pomegranate) 
1H4 2 4 41 goes back to a metathesized OF doublet In Costard’s pursents 
(presents) LLL 5 2 488 we have an instance of the change of prefix For 
the two forms heraldy H i i 87 (Q2) and heraldry (F) see OED 

larie H5 5277, spelled cursenary (Q), cursorary (Q2), may stand for 
cursitory or cursorary 

8 Dekker’s pun on Ftrk, cited on p 241, above, implies the use of a very weak r, 
unless It was completely silent 

9 Henslowe frequently writes hunderd (once hunded), and it is therefore far from 
unlikely that Shakespeare, too, used this metathesized form 



The Sibilants 

By far the most interesting question m the history of the sibilants [s, z, 
J,3,tJ,d3] IS the assibilation of [sj] (< earlier-^i-,*^z- plus vowel) to [J] 
and [3] action, vtsion^znAoi [tj] to [tj], [dj] to [d3] 2Lsm creature, 
soldier The orthoepists do not recognize such a change until the middle 
of the 17th century, when Hodges (1644) teaches the fully assibilated 
[J] and [3] m words of the first group (Kauter, §78), but there is a mass 
of orthographic evidence to prove that assibilation had actually set m as 
early as the first half of the 15th century ^ It is clear, therefore, that the 
colloquial language at the end of the i6th century had [J] in words like 
condition, malicious, partial and [3] in occasion, division, etc, even 
though conservative speakers doubtless still clung to the old-fashioned 
[sj] and [zj] , thus Gill (1621) transcribes meditation [meditasion] and 
occasion [okazion],^ whereas Mulcaster (1582) had shon for -sion, -tion 

(pp 1650 

This assibilation is confirmed by the spellings lushious O i 3 355, mar- 
shall (martial) H5 4846, martiall (marshal) P 2 3 19, R2 i 3 44, 46, 
99 (Q), tashan (tertian) H5 2 i 124 (Qi, 3, used by Mrs Quickly), 
aunchentry (ancientry) MA 2 i 80, and perhaps also by exion (action) 
2H4 2 I 33 (Mrs Quickly) Moreover, it had occurred initially before u 
[ju ] as in shue (sue) LLL 3 i 206, shute (suit) MWW 2 i 220 (Q), 
3 5 126 (Q), three shewted L 2 2 16 (Q), shout H5 3 6 81 (Qi, 3), shure 
H5 I 28 (Q), MWW 3 I 60 (Q), 5 5 (Q), common-shores (-sewers) 
P 4 6 186, and in the puns suit(or)-'Shoot(er) The assibilation of [tj] to 
[tJ] and of [dj] to [d3] may be exemplified by Capuchins H8 42 no, 
Ventigius (Ventidius) TmA 129, spelled Ventidgius TmA 333, 8, 
contigian H5 2 i 124 (Mrs Quickly) , and by Henslowe’s spellings fus(t)- 
chen,foschen (fustizn) , soger (soldier) znd Enges (Indies) ^Noassibila- 
tion had, however, taken place in the final syllables -ture, -dure, -sure 
as in picture, verdure, censure, measure, which were pronounced [tor, 
dor, soj, 20 j] , see p 271, above 

When the rhythm of the verse so required, the endings -cious, -sion, 
-tial, -hence, -tion, etc , as in gracious, division, substantial, patience, pro- 
motion, could be made disyllabic, with i pronounced as a full vowel, [i] , in 

1 Wyld, pp 293 f, Jordan, §299, Studia Neophtlologtca, 7 (i 934 / 35 ), 140 1 

2 This conservative pronunciation will perhaps explain the striking inverted forms 
actions (accents) C 3 3 55 and questions (questant’s) TNK s 3 17 , see p 302, above 

3 Used several times in the play title “The Conqueste of the Weste Enges ” Enges 
may, however, stand for the variant Indtds, in which assibilation would be more 
natural than in Indies 

3i8 phonology 

that case either the assibilated consonant was retained nevertheless, thus 
[Ji3s], [3iDn], etc, or the more conservative pronunciation just re- 
ferred to was used instead, with unassibilated [s] and [z] 

The voiced sound [z] appears in bnded (bristled) C 2 2 96, which 
should be compared with Jones' (1701) use of [z] in fasten, listen, etc, 
with dialectal [z] in listen, thistle,^ and with the pun Pistol-pizzle In 
practiz’d RL 748 and unpractiz’d RL 1098 the is a survival of the once 
end-stressed form of the word (OED) , cowar dize TGV 3 2 32, 5 2 21 is 
a form used also by Spenser (FQ i 6 24) Voicing of the medial ^ has taken 
place in gozemore (gossamer) L 4649, spelled gosmore (Q), while 
cizard (scissored) TNK i 2 54 preserves the original Fr [z] Dogberry's 
suffigance MA 3 5 56 probably stands for suffisance, whose medial [z] 
became [d3] as still occasionally in Cockney squeege (squeeze), ex- 
scuge,^ while Mrs Quickly's pulsidge 2H4 2 4 26 is a similar change of 
the pi pulses^ Voicing of final [tj] to [d5] (suffixal change) has oc- 
curred in estridges (ostrich) 1H4 4 i 98, astridge 2H6 41031 (Q),cf 
modern knowledge and place-names like Greenwich, which Henslowe 
spells grynwige Note further paiocke (pajock) H 3 2 295, undoubtedly to 
be derived from patchock, with voicing of its medial [tJ] to [d3] , scorged 
MWW I 3 74 (Q) for scorched, of uncertain etymology, and dialectal 
cagion (occasion) L 4 6 240 (Q) , for which see p 39, above 

The disyllabic form carkasses C 3 3 122 is to be read carcass like other 
uninflected plurals of nouns m -i*, e g , corpes (corpse) 1H4 i i 43, hal- 
lance MV 4 i 255 , similarly conveyances C 5 i 54, practises 2H6 3 i 46, 
reliances TmA 2 i 22,^ services C 2 3 231, WT 2117, etc , should be 
read without the final -es, and so should perhaps targes AC 2 6 39, Cy 
5 5 5 By the side of such genitival forms as Empress e TGV 5 4 141, hun- 
tresse AYL 324, mistris AYL 2 4 37, etc , we also find the monosyllabic 
form Princes 1H6 148, to be read Prince’ In sans O i 3 64, spelled 
saunce (Q), the final s seems to have been voiceless, today the word is 
pronounced [ssenz] Zbloud 1H4 i 2 82 (Q) and zouns Oil 108, etc , 
preserve the voiced s of God’s The loss of the initial s in parmacitie 1H4 

1 3 58, a common early variant of spermaceti, very likely originated in a 

4 See Ekwall, Jones, pp cclxxxiii, 122, and EDGr, §326 

5 Matthews, Cockney Past and Present, p 178 

6 This IS not, as OED asserts, a ‘ humorous blunder for pulse"^ but a special de- 
velopment of the pi ending [iz] , cf modern Cockney Pancndge for Pancras 
(Matthews, ibid), a form already appearing in Ben Jonson’s A Tale of a Tub 

2 6 38, etc , and w So [no tids] for notice (EDGr, §329) 

7 But if we contract the followmg on hts to on*s, reliances will have to be tetra- 

CONSONANTS [8] AND [ 0 ] 319 

phrase like use spermaceti or in the popular plant name poor marCs 

Ltcounsh TmA 4 3 194, a variant of liquorice recorded from the i6th 
century and still heard in dialects, shows assimilation to the suffix -ish 
and perhaps also confusion with lickerish < hckerous (pleasant to the 
palate) The same change has occurred in Parish Garden (Pans Garden) 
H8 S 4 2, a form used also by Greene (OED), probably through associa- 
tion with parish Goship (gossip) RJ 2 i ii is recorded from the i6th 
and 17th centuries (OED), whereas Mrs Quickly’s rushhng MWW 

2 2 68 calls to mind the same development in dialectal gashly for ghastly , ® 
wistly R2 5 4 7 > spelled wishtly (Q), may stand for wishly, whistly 
(OED), perhaps with the same sound-change But fashions (farcins) TS 

3 2 S3, used by the servant Biondello and found earlier in Lodge and 
Greene’s A Looking Glass for London and England r 2 234,® illustrates 
the fusion of the southern (and western) retroflex r with ^ to [J] as in the 
16th-century form Porchmouth for Portsmouth, in the Wt place-name 
Porchfield, and in the variant hernshaw for hernsaw ^ Voutsafe H 2 2 13 
(Q2), S 328, etc, is merely a simplification of the consonantal cluster 
[tjs] to [ts], recorded from the 14th century on Sickles (shekels) MM 
2 2 149 represents the doublet side < OF side (OED) For cushes 1H4 

4 I 105 see p 242, above, and for the n aches T i 2 370, TmA i i 257, 

5 I 202, with [tj] as against [k] in the vb akes C 3 i 108, etc , see the pun 
ache-H, p 89, above 


The ME change of medial [8] before m, n, r to [d] (Jordan, §206) 
IS reflected in f adorns H i 4 77 (Q2), fadome R J i 4 85, f adorn T i 2 396, 
farder (farther) O 2 i 243 (Q), fardmgales TS 43 56 (but farthingale 
TGV 27 51), tider H i 3 125 (Q2, tether F) , the unchanged [8] re- 
mains in burthen R J i 4 22, 23, T i 2 380, etc , poother (pother) C 2 i 234, 
powther L 3 2 50 (Q, pudder F), swathhng (swaddling) 1H4 3 2 112 
(Q), whereas farthell (fardel) WT 44728 looks like an inverted spell- 

8 See Sf Dial , §360, and EDGr, §326 

9 There are some striking similarities between Biondello’s catalogue of equine 
ailments in 11 49-59 and the Clown’s m A Looking Glass, 11 230-8 

I See “Five Shakespeare Notes,” p 319, and PN JVt,p civ Porchmouth is not a 
case of inner sound-substitution as suggested by Zachnsson, Studier i modern sprak- 
vetenskap, S (1921), i2iff, and repeated by Horn, Archiv, 186 (1949), 84, but 
ancient for ensign shows the substitution of [n/] for [ns], probably as a result of 
popular etymology [$nsn] > [§ njn(t)] 



ing Murder and its derivatives appear with th and d, as m murther(er) 
RJ 22 70, 3 I 143, murders R J 3 i 202, Hart (iS 7 i)» Dames (1640), 
and Hodges (1644) teach [tS] m murther, which seems to have been the 
current eNE variant of murder, apparently used in Shakespeare’s rhyme 
further murther^ 

In nostril < OE nospyrl the interconsonantal [ 0 ] became [t], but th 
lingered on in the spelling until well into the 17th century as in Shake- 
speare’s nosthnll Hs 3 1 15, WT i 2421, whose th was probably pro- 
nounced [t] Drouth, rhyming with mouth, and hetghfh AC 3 10 21, higth 
S 1168 reflect the older, etymological form with [ 0 ], still heard in many 
dialects , ® but the present form is used in the rhymes height night, sight 

A dialectal change of final [6] in moth to [t], reported from Gl, O, Db, 
and La, resulted m the coalescence of moth and mote and in the use of the 
inverted spelling moth for mote as in H i i 112, J 4 i 92, LLL 4 3 161, 
etc , moath Hs 41 188, this applies also to Moth, one of the fames in 
MND, and to Moth, page to Don Armado in LLL, which should there- 
fore be pronounced mote and preferably be so written The same sound- 
change must have operated in with(e), which is used in a pun on mt, 
whereas the jingle debt-death may imply only approximation of sound A 
different case is the pun nothing-noting, which agrees with the rhyme 
nothing Ordoting , here we seem to have an assimilatory change of 
[no 0n] > [no tn] , of which there is, unfortunately, no record, though the 
K, Sx pronunciation [nAdn] (EDGr, §§315 f ) presupposes it 

Preservation of older forms with original t accounts for fift Hs, MV 

1 2 137, sixt 1H6, MA s I 221, etc (< OE fifta, sixta), and, with loss of 
t before the following n and d, Twelje Night, twelfe day, TN 2391 The 
use of the cardinal numeral as an ordinal explains eight (eighth) JC 

2 I 213, fifteenes (fifteenths) 2H6 4 7 24, and thousand AYL 4 i 45 , cf 
OED But hundreth (hundred) TA i i 350 is a doublet of ON origin, 
current between the 14th and 17th centuries (OED) 

Mrs Quickly’s ta (thou) in wot ta 2H4 2 i 63 is a case of assimilation 
of preasely the same nature as ME at pen > atte(n) (see below) 

For modem [ 0 ] (spelling-pronunciation) the Elizabethans used [t] 
in loanwords and names like apothecary, Arthur, author (ity), lethargy, 
orthography, etc ^ Shakespeare has [t] in Goth, with a pun on goat, and in 

2 Dames, who used [?S] m burthen, farthing, murther, reminds us that m burthen, 
murther ‘*tnany pronounce Th, like ’ (p 54) 

3 Cf Jordan, §205, EDGr, Index 

4 Hart (1570) has t in author, authority but th in orthography. Gill (1621) # m 
Arthur, author, and Hodges (1644) t m author, authority, orthography Cf also 


throne, punning on (that) roan, and further m Katenna TS 2 i 43, 44, 
Katenne TS 2 i 62 (cf Henslowe^ s SencatereJ 7 s) , ortagnphieULL ^ i 22, 
ortography MA 2 3 21 (Q), and like today in time (thyme) TNK i i 6, 
Antony JC, but anafhomt::ie AYL i i 162, anothomize 2H4 pr2i (Q, 
anatomize F), etc , and gamo(ii)th TS 3 i 67, 71, etc , appear to be in- 
verted spellings On the other hand, lanthorne (lantern) 2H4 i 2 54, a 
form due to popular association with horn, may actually have given rise 
to a spelling-pronunciation [lasntho m] , at any rate, Falstaff certainly 
pronounced the word so as to produce a pun on horn A Frenchman's mis- 
pronunciation of [ 0 ] as [t] resulted in the pun third-turd If not a mis- 
print (t for th), trassell MV i 2 65 (Qq, F) represents an assimilatory 
change of initial [ 9 r] to [tr], now confined to a few dialects ® 
Philhorse (thill-horse) MV 22 100 and Farborough (third-borough) 
LLL 1 1 185 (Q , Tharborough F) are the only instances of the sporadic 
change of [6] > [f], said to be particularly common in Cockney,® 
note the inverted spellings epiteeth, epitithe H 22550, 32144 (Q, 
epitaph F) But youth proof, wealth yourself, and farthest harvest I 
prefer to regard as cases of assonance (see p 296, above) 

Loss of [t 5 ] has taken place before [z] in clothes, rhyming with rose, 
and in loathes, with a pun on lows , cf the spellings close, does 5-8, OED 
With had the full forms [wi6], used in the rhyme teeth with,'^ and [wit5], 
which was used before voiced sounds but was apt to lose its [8] in an 
unstressed position as m notwistanding MND 3 2 394 (Q) and before 
the definite article as in with effects AW i 1 198 The article itself is occa- 
sionally merged with the preposition at as m at * P allace WT 4 4 731, 
doore MWW 4 2 iii, TS 4 i 123 (which should be at the door), etc , this 
at IS therefore directly descended from ME atte < af-the(n) 

Intervocalic [6] has disappeared in monosyllabic whether, spelled wheW 
CE 4 I 60, wher L 2 i 81, zvhere 2H6 3 2 265, 3310,} i i 75, 2 i 167, 
JC I I 66, 5 3 97, 5 4 30, R3 3 7 214, T 5 I III, VA 304, but as often to be 
inferred from the scansion of the line, as in MND i i 69, TA i i 395, 
etc , particularly interesting is the inverted spelling whether for where in 
Whether (== whither) away, and whether (= where) is thy abode TS 

Jespersen, Grammar, i, §§2 622 and 7241, who unsuccessfully tries to mal e a case 
for a phonetic change of # > [0] in the modern forms of these words 

5 EDGr, §313, Index, and Sf Dial, §357 

6 See Wyld, p 291, and Matthews, Cockney Past and Present, pp 162 f Also 
EDGr, §313 

7 It IS possible to interpret this as a case of assonance, however, for elsewhere 
Shakespeare rhymes voiceless and voiced consonants , see p 296, above 



4 5 38, and so is Whether we are mended, or where better they S 59 ii, 
in which both instances of the word are monosyllabic ® Modern or < OE 
oper IS the best example of this syncopation, which in ME and eNE oc- 
curred also in er < e(i)ther and ner (spelled nere 5-6, nar 6, OED) < 
ne{%)ther^ In fact, Shakespeare has many instances of monosyllabic 
either and neither, not counting- ambiguous cases in a caesura ^ some of 
these occur before a word beginning with a vowel, in which case -er may 
have been rendered by a nonsyllabic [r], as in MND 2 i 32, Cy i 697, 
1H4 I 3 27, 1H6 5 I 59, O 4 2 153 But this explanation is unlikely when 
either, neither begin the line and are followed by a word beginning with a 
consonant, as in CE 4 i 56, H8 5 4 24, JC 4 i 23, MM 2 2 96, S 70 10, etc 
Here we seem to have genuine cases of monosyllabic {n) either with loss 
of the medial [8] and perhaps pronounced [(n)e j] 

Other words treated in the same way are brother, father, mother, fur- 
ther, gather, murther, other, and rather Before a following vowel their -er 
may well have been pronounced as a nonsyllabic [r], as in brother in law 
1H4 I 3 80, brother and T 5112, father-in-law H8 3 2 8, R3 14 49, fa- 
ther and mother TA 3 2 60, etc , gather our 1H6 2 i 76, rather on AC 

5 2 58, but a syncopated variant is necessary in further then 1H4 3 i 255, 
otherwhiles 1H6 127, rather makes AC 3 i 23, rather then 3H6 i i 224, 
TNK 148, rather have O 3 425, rather refuse R2 4 i 15 and in care 
gather (1H6), father heir (R2), unless these are to be interpreted as 
masculine-feminine rhymes (but see p 34, above) It is clear that the 
tendency to syncopate the medial [8] cannot have been confined to whether 
and {n) either alone, though there is scanty evidence of it in the other 
relevant words Yet we have the conclusive form toore (t’other) in Gam- 
mer Gurton's Needle 3 4 20, and the now dialectal adj rare ‘ready’ (also 
in rare-ripe), which is not, as OED says, a variant of rathe but a syn- 
copated form of the comparative rather, used as a positive like the old 
comparative near Moreover, in gaffer and gammer we find father and 
mother reduced to -fer, -mer , cf the 1420 spelling godmores cited by 
Wyld, p 304, and Brer for ‘brother’ in the southern Negro dialect of 
America 2 Finally the incorrect F reading farther LLL 2 i 175, which 
should be faire as in Q, certainly looks like an inverted spelling 

8 So indicated in Tucker Brooke, Shakespeare* s Sonnets, p 150 Kittredge, on the 
other hand, keeps the first whether, which ruins the rhythm of the line, since we 
should be strongly stressed here 

9 OED calls ner a “variant of nor** without explaining it further 

1 Several instances of seemingly monosyllabic htther, thither, together all occur 
m a caesura 

2 Krapp, 1, 248 ff If faire either TS i 2 180-1 is a rhyme, it would parallel the 
above father heir 



V and / 

In Elizabethan English the voicing of originally final / to z/ in an inter- 
vocalic position before the ending -es^ as in modern Uje-hves, was not 
confined to the pi alone but occurred as regularly in the gen sg , e g , in 
lives J 43 106, RL 124, 1208,® theeves 1H4 2210 (Q), wives AYL 
4 I 170, Cy I I 5 , etc , ^ note also beeves 2H4 3 2 353 (beefes Q) as the 
pi of beef, and the sg theefe 1H4 3 3 212 for modem dialectal fheave 
(with analogical v from the pi ), punning on thief The same kind of voic- 
ing accounts for elvish R3 i 3 228, wolvish MV 4 i 138, etc , leavy MA 
2 3 75, etc , and hveless(e) AYL i 2 262, RL 1374 , live (hef ) AC 2 7 13, 
C 4 5 185, H 3 2 4, etc , spelled liefe JC i 2 95 in a pun on live, goes back 
to ME live < such inflected OE forms as leofa, leofan Caitwe R2 i 2 53 
(Q) reflects a ME variant in -ive (OED) 

The southern and southwestern voicing of initial f to v as in modern 
vat, vixen and in Shakespeare's vade (fade) S 54 14 (but fat roome 1H4 
241) resulted in hypercorrect forms with f for original v like fetches 
(vetches) T 4161, fia (via) MV 2211 (Launcelot), firago (virago) 
TN 3 4 302, fives ( [a]vives) TS 3 2 55, pheazar (vizier) MWW i 3 10, 
perhaps partly through association with feeze (spelled pheeze TS pr i i ), 
and fartuous (virtuous) MWW 2 2 loi (the last two used by Mrs 
Quickly) ® Whimd'st (finewed'st) TC 2115 would have been a fine 
inverted spelling in a Scottish text, and it should perhaps be so interpreted 
here too , but it is also possible to explain it as a rare instance of w for v 
< f (cf vm[n] ewed 6 -g, OED) and of wh for w (see p 328, below) The 
F spelling vehemency MWW 2 2 247 corresponds to veruensie in Q, which 
IS either fervency with z; < f as in vervent ^-6 (OED) or a contracted 
form of vehemency (with for -m-) to be compared with Sf [w^mn] 
for vehement 

The voicing of final f in of, which can be traced back to ME times, is 
clearly indicated by Hart (1570), who transcribes both of and if with 
z' (pp 16 f ) Shakespeare has mostly the traditional form of and, besides, 
the unstressed, apocopated variants o' and a' as in TC 5 3 104, H 5 2 272, 
etc Voicing of the final f with subsequent loss of v resulted m hussy < 

3 This line, reading lives foule deed, my lifes faire end shall free it,” illustrates 
beautifully the inconsistency of Elizabethan orthography 

4 Modern survivals are calve^s head, calve^s foot (Wyld, p 322), and perhaps 
old wives' tale, if wives' = wive's, but see old wife, OED 

5 According to Gill (1621), southern speakers used to say “vtl pro fit vech 
pro fech" and conversely *fineger pro vineger ficar pro vicar^' (Logonorma 
Anglica, p 32) , see also p 37, above 



ME haswlfy if not a misprint, huswye Hs S i 85 (Q) may be an ante- 
cedent of the latter form The interesting Q spelling heleejt L 4 3 31 proba- 
bly stands for beheve't, though it may be a blend of beheved and the old 
p pie belejt , ® in the former case it is an interesting example of regressive 
assimilation in sandhi 

Loss of f before t has occurred m ajter, rhyming with caught her 
daughter slaughter halter (discussed on p 183, above) , this was the 
common colloquial form long before Shakespeare, as the 1528 rhyme 
after carter shows (quoted, Wyld, p 257), but we cannot possibly infer 
from the Shakespearean rhyme that it was the preferred pronunciation in 
his day, let alone that he himself used it Seale (self) slaughter H i 2 132 
(Q2) and himsele H 5 i 18 are either misprints or genuine instances of the 
loss of f in self as in the modern dialects of D, Do, Gl, Sa, So, W (EDGr, 
Index, and EDD) Handkercher AYL 4 3 98, etc , a frequent form, is 
not, however, a reduction of handkerchtfe Cy i 3 6 but goes back to ME 
kercher < OF couvrechier 

Already in ME the medial v tended to disappear in words like ever^ 
never ^ over, even, devil, seven, etc , but the causes of this change cannot 
be sharply defined ^ Such contracted forms are very numerous in Shake- 
speare They are sometimes graphically indicated as m are (ever) P 3 pr 8, 
ayre-remayning P 3 i 63, what ere, where ere VA 622, 623, who ere RJ 
S 3 I 73 > burthen are (burthen ne'er) CE S i 402, ne'er LLL 41 136, nere 
MND 2 2 61, TS pr 2 8, ne're JC 2 2 ii, 3H6 5 5 24, neare 1H4 139 (Q), 
P 3 2 6, ev'r TNK 2 2 33, 31 37, nev'r MWW 4 4 66, TmA 2 2 239, 
4 3 487, etc , ore (over) RJ i 2 7, i 3 81, o're M 2 i 49, or tooke H 2 i 58 
(Q2), etc , further in the rhymes Jupiter nere, ore before, more, sore, 
swore, tore and in the puns hour-o'er, near-ne'er But, as often, these 
words retain their conventional spelling and then only the rhythm of the 
line will reveal whether they should be read as monosyllables or disyl- 
lables , this is true of ever Cy 3 i 4, T 2 i 132, never AYL 2 4 32, PIS pr 22, 
whensoever MM 5 i 158, over R2 2 3 33, WT 4 4 90, and many others, 
which correspond to e'er, ne'er, o'er So do the above variants ev'r, nev'r, 
which are followed by words beginning with a consonant ev'r see, ev'r 

6 The Q reads ‘Let pitie not be beleeff^ (the whole scene has been omitted from 
F), which Tucker Brooke (Vale edition, pp iii, 176), assuming he to have been 
accidentally repeated by the printer, interprets as “Let pity not believed Kittredge 
(pp 1I43» 1200) keeps this he, changing beleeft to believ'd, and so does Duthie, 
P 310, who reads beleeued on the analogy of the Q2 spelling heleeiCd In either case 
the meter is halting If, however, we accept the former interpretation but expand 
beleeft to believe it, the line will scan very well “Let pity not believe it There she 

7 See Jordan, §216, and Luick, §745 

CONSONANTS [v] AND [f] 325 

horej nevW doo’t, nevW speake, nevW did ® It is important to bear in mind 
that these monosyllabic forms were good colloquial pronunciations and 
not merely metrical makeshifts as today , they appear in both verse and 
prose ® 

The two instances of deale (devil) H 2 2 627 (Q2), which have been 
explained as misprints of deuile and emended to deule ^ on the analogy of 
deule (= devle) H 3 2 137 (Q2, prose), RJ 2 4 i and deidle R J 3 i 108 
(prose), seem to me to suggest a monosyllabic pronunciation of devil with 
loss of V, comparable to eale (evil) H i 4 36 (Q2, F) and reeles (revels) 
AC 2 7 99, H I 4 9 , for a discussion of the whole problem see pp 188 f , 
204, above Note particularly ill (Q) for evill 2H4 i 2 186 (prose) with 
a pun on ill ml 187 and the erroneous use of evills (Q) for H 3 i 81 
Early vocalization of the medial v mi evel resulted in rule, used by Shake- 
speare m night-rule MND 3 2 5 ^ 

In respect of even (adj , adv , n ) we are on much safer ground There 
is no dearth of conclusive spellings to prove that v had been eliminated in 
the contracted foims e'ne, e'ene, in, enow (even now), etc , and in godden 
(good even), god dig-you-den, etc , for complete details see pp 203 f, 
above But there is no such indication in Shakespeare that monosyllabic 
heaven (s) and disyllabic heavenly, which are extremely common, had 
discarded their medial v On the other hand, a contemporary and friend 
of Spenser's, Lodowick Bryskett, twice omits the n m heaven*s, writing it 
heau's, ® cf the 15th-century spelling he fly (heavenly) cited in OED 

Loss of V and contraction has taken place in semghts O 2 i 77, spelled 
sev' nights M i 3 22, seve' night WT i 2 17 For all we know they may 
have occuried also in the disyllabic seaventy TNK 5 187, seaventeene 
AYL 2 3 73 — cf the 15th-century form (OED) and [s^m] ior seven 
m the W dialect — ^but I doubt that seven itself was normally pronounced 
without a z', its monosyllabic variant should probably be explained in the 
same way as heav’n (see p 260, above) 

8 Before a word begirning with a vowel, e g , never tn, a monosyllabic form with 
nonsyllabic r, thus nev r-m, is at least theoretically possible 

9 In prose, e g , TS pr 2 8 Cf Hodges (1643), *1 was never a bit neer, for all the 
labour which I bestowed,” and the above pun, also Chaucer’s "And yet my boote 
is never the ner” (BD 38) 

1 Parrot and Craig, p 138, see also Language, 18 (1942), 42, n 14 

2 Language 18 (1942), 40 ff See also p 189 above, n 4 

3 In “The mourning Muse of Thestylis ” 1 80 and “A pastorall Aeglogue ” 1 153, 
often printed as companion pieces to Spenser’s Astrophel It is worth noting that 
shorthand authors of the 17th century like Hardey (1684) and Shelton (1691) leave 
out the V in heaven and heavenly, writing them hen and henh , see Matthew^, English 
Pronunciation and Shorthand, p 186 



The remarkable forms sleyd {sleive Q) TC 5 i 33, sleided LC 48, 
sleded P 4pr 21 suggest the same loss of v before d as in heads < OE 
heajdes, lady < OE hl^fdige, and ME mede < mevde , ^ this contracted 
p pie then took on a secondary ending -ed like modern dialectal and vulgar 
drownded and Shakespeare’s swoonded JC i 2 249, WT 5 2 98 The pun 
movedr-mood seems to be a comparable case It would not be significant 
in Itself, for the v in [mu vd] might easily have been pronounced indis- 
tinctly to enhance the similarity between the two words, but seen in rela- 
tion to the above forms, to the Spenserian rhyme hloud stoud remoud, 
and to the spellings mou'd (mood) P 3 pr 46 and, particularly, moo'd 
m Massinger’s The Emperour of the East (1632) 521 (‘‘Still in this 
sullen moo’d”), it certainly gives the impression of being a conclusive 
instance of [mu d] for moved Shovels WT 4 4 469, if monosyllabic, re- 
flects a contracted variant of long standing, now dialectal , see OED and 
EDGr, Index 

No V was apparently used in ease-dropper R3 S 3222 (Q, F) as m 
dialectal easing for eavesmg (EDD, OED), nor m Aburgany (Aberga- 
venny) H8 I I 21 1, Damtry (Daventry) 3H6 516, still pronounced 
[d^intri] locally, and Harford-west (Q), Hertford West (Haverford- 
west) R3 4 5 10 ® Disyllabic Ravenspurre 3H6 478 (trisyllabic Ravens- 
purgh R2 2 I 296) corresponds to Ramspur (Q), whose u is ambiguous, 
however it may stand for v or form part of the digraph au as in daunce 
VA 105 ® Ben Jonson’s mar% marie for marvel (n and vb) suggests the 
omission of v in marv'llous C 4 5 30, R3 12 254, etc In discover him 
L 2 I 68 the dis\ liable form of discover may reflect the contemporary 
variant discour < ME discoure , alternatively, the two words were meant 
to be read discov'r-im, with nonsyllabic r and omission of the h of un- 
stressed him 

When the unknown writer of the Prologue to TNK rhymed akin 
g'yn (given), he used a pronunciation which Gill (1621) repudiated^ 
but which Bullokar (1585) recorded as an apparently acceptable variant 
of the fuller form ® There is no evidence of gi' in Shakespeare except in 

4 See Luick, §428, and Jordan, §§216, 263 

5 For early spellings like Harford, Her(e)ford, etc, see Charles, pp 79 f , the 
first element of the name seems to be OE hcefer, buck 

6 The place disappeared into the encroaching sea long ago, but the second element 
of the name survives as Spurn Head and Spurn Point , see these names and Ravenser 

iOdd),PNYE,vv i6f, 19 

7 See my article in Studia Neophtlologica, ii (1938/39), 240 In early popular 
ballads give often rhymes with me, knee, see, be, etc 

8 Bullokar had [1 ] in give, given, and g^n (p 47) 

CONSONANTS [v] AND [f] 32 / 

the phrase Godgigoden RJ i 2 58 and variations upon it On the other 
hand, given is quite often monosyllabic, irrespective of whether a con- 
sonant or vowel immediately follows, as in given him Cy i 5 78, JC 2 i 219, 
given me H8 4 2 152, given 1H6 i 6 14, given out Cy S 5 312, giv'n for 
3H6 4 I 44, etc , here given was pronounced either [gi n] or [givn] (with 
nonsyllabic n),® perhaps even give (4-6, OED), a form not recorded in 
Shakespeare, however Driven^ too, is monosyllabic in driven by 1H6 
S 5 7, driven hack 2H6 4 9 34, driven upon P 2 3 85, driven before P 
5 pr 14, driven to VA 692 (also droven them AC 475) The pronuncia- 
tion was probably [drivn] , with nonsyllabic n, unless we dare assume that 
the spoken form was drive [driv], a variant pple from the 13th to the 
1 6th century (OED), though not found in Shakespeare 

Have is a much clearer case It had a variant without the final v^ ha 
[h§ ], used with a following p pie as in H5 4 7 7, MA 3 4 35 (Q), etc , 
or with an enclitic it as m ho!t O i 3 408 (Q), TS S 2 181 (rhyming with 
Kate), hate H 2 2 565 (Q2), etc , note also ha!s H i i 17, 21, AC 361, 
which may be only a fanciful way of writing has on the analogy of ha! For 
the unstressed form a see p 272, below Having L 2 2 102, etc , is to be 
read either [h^ n] or [h§ g] , see p 270 

Of the same type is the loss of v in sa* me H5 3 2 118, 121 (used by 
Macmorris) and surreverence RJ 1442 (Q, save your reverence F) 

The Q spelling shrieve reveals how monosyllabic sherife 2H4 4 4 99 
should be read , sheriff itself is a secondary development, perhaps on the 
analogy of bailiff, the etymological form being ME shereve < OE sclr- 
gerefa For lief tenant 2H4 5 5 95 (Q) P above Triumpher ate 
(triumvirate) AC 3 6 28 and triumphery LLL 4 3 53 are erroneous spell- 
ings obviously inspired by triumph For cavileroes (F), cabileros (Q) 
2H4 5 3 62, cavolereea P 4 6 12, and cavalery MND 4 ^ 24 (Bottom) see 
cavalier, OED 

Confusion between v and w, typical of the southeast Midland dialect 
and of early Cockney, may account for vast (Q) ^ for wast (waist) H 
I 2 198 (Q2, F), vaile (F) for waile R3 44348 (Qq), showe (Q2) for 
shove H 3 3 58 (F), dialectal vore (warrant) L 46247, and whimd'st 
(finewed^st) discussed above, the pun wildest— vildest, however, implies 
only similarity of sound Ewse dropper (Q2-3), eawse- (Q4)> ^-^d ewese- 
(Q5-8) for ease-dropper R3 5 3 222 (Q, F , see above), which agree with 
the spelling ewse-dreepes in a Bury will of 1639 (OED), point to a diph- 

9 Butler (1634) reports the variants gtven, driven and gvdn, dnv*n (p 49) » but 
we do not know whether his syncopated forms had syllabic or nonsyllabic n 

I See p 174, n 8, above 



thongization of this e(a)w- < eav- as in Sf [Iq 9] for lever, spelled lewers 
1543,® and m St E newt < OE efete 

w and wh 

The present leveling in St E oiw and wh under the former was appar- 
ently going on in Shakespeare’s time, with some speakers using w for wh 
but the majority still keeping up the distinction between w [w] in wet 
and wh [m] in whet ^ Ben Jonson explicitly states that wh is pronounced 
A + ww (or Greek ov) in hov-at, hov-tch, etc, while Butler (1634) re- 
gards [m] as "‘peculiar to the English ” Hodges (1644), too, distinguishes 
between w and wh, as do earlier orthoepists (Hart, Gill, etc ) Two puns 
in Shakespeare, viz , wether-whether, wight-white, suggest, however, that 
the use of w for wh was sufficiently common to permit a play on the two 
words involved Except for the dialectal wee-jace (whay-face) MWW 
I 4 22 and the above whmd'st (finewed’st), there are no conclusive spell- 
ings showing the leveling of w and wh, for wealk'd L 4671 (< OE 
wioloc) had no h originally, and where CE 2 i 112, which Kittredge 
emends to wear without improving the scansion of the line, occurs in an 
obviously corrupt passage, for which as yet no fully acceptable reading 
has been suggested 

At the end of the i6th century and for some time after, many speakers 
still pronounced initial wr- as an r with lip-rounding,^ distinguishing it 
m that way from simple initial r, but most people had no doubt already 
leveled zvr- and r- in wr%ng-nng In The Enghsh Primrose (1644) 
Hodges has some instances of wr, which may, however, be oversights, 
since he mostly marks w as silent in wr and, moreover, in his earlier 
pamphlet (1643) hsts nghts-writeth, rot-wrot, raught-wr ought, rapt-- 
zvrapt, wretch^retch, rung-wrung, racL-<vrack as homonyms By the fol- 
lowing puns and spellings Shakespeare reveals that he pronounced wr and 
r alike ring-wnng, rung-wrong, rap (wrap) MND 2 i 256, wreake 
(reck) TC 5 6 26, wreakes AYL 2481, wi eaking TGV 4 3 40, wreake- 
lesse C 3 I 92, ore-wrought H 3 i 17 (F, ore-raught Q2), CE i 2 96, ore- 
rested (-wrested) TC i 3 157, unrung (unwrung) H 3 2 253 

Loss of w before [u ] is evidenced in soop-sfake H 4 5 142 and in the 
very common form sound for swoon, as m AYL 5 2 29, H 5 2 319, LLL 
5 2 392, etc , sounded TA 51 119, etc , blends of sound and swoon are 

2 Si Dial , §354 

3 SeeWyld, pp 31 if 

4* Liuck, §800, and Horn, §174, quoting this from a Fr grammar of 1595 ‘W se 
prononce, comme si r etoit devant w, written romtten ** 

CONSONANTS [w] AND [m] 329 

swound J 5622, JC I 2253, swownded WT 5298, did swooned 2H4 

4 5 234, etc Wounds (n ) has also lost its zv in the oath souns O i i 108, 
etc , zounds RJ 3 i 52 (but zwounes RJ 3 i 48 Q) In green-sord WT 
44 157, zv disappeared before eNE [u ] in [swu rd] < late ME swgrd 
< early ME swgid < OE (Anglian) sward , soord and sword for sward 
have been recorded from Wa (EDD) A similar development has taken 
place in forsorne (forsworn) LLL 43385 (Q) , Hodges (1644) and 
Cooper (1685) omit zv m szvorn The loss of w in old (wold) L 3 4 125 is 
clearly dialectal , EDD reports it from Np 

The opposite development has taken place in zv 00 sell (ousel) MND 
3 I 128, 2H4 3 2 9 (Q , ouzel F ) Except for the Frenchman’s van urd (one 
word) MWW 3 I 81 (Q), van Ung MWW 4 5 88 (Q), and possibly the 
jingle one Franc es-enjranchise, which Suggests [wAn] for one rather than 
[o n], there are only two instances of the rhyme sun one (perhaps also 
man one) to show that the same prosthetic [w] must have developed in 
one , ® [0 n] w’^as, however, still by far the commoner form, which took the 
indefinite article an before it as in such an one AC i 2 1 18, M 4 3 66 

In suifixal -zvai d and -zvorfhy [w] tends to disappear in dialectal and 
vulgar English ® The peculiar spelling up-peer' d (upward) H5 2 3 27 may 
be an example of this change (a printer’s attempt to mterpiet an original 
upperd), and so is certainly disyllabic pemworths RJ 4 5 4, 2H6 i i 222 , 
cf Henslowe’s Toward {s) is frequently monosyllabic, implying 
a pronunciation [to id] or [to id] as m H 5 2 376, LC 61, S 9 13, WT 
I 2 404, etc , monosyllabic froward TS 2 i 295 must have been similarly 
pronounced The loss of [w] in such words caused its erroneous insertion 
in the apparently disyllabic weyward (weird) M i 3 32, 159, spelled 
weyard M 312, 3 4 133, 4 i 136 , association with wayward should per- 
haps also be reckoned with (OED), at any rate on the part of the printer 
Unstressed w has, besides disappeared in boson (boatswain) T 1 1 13 
and in Cotsall (Cotswold) MWW i 192, Coftshold (F), Cofshall (Q) 
R2 2 3 9, Cot-sal-man 2H4 3 2 24, a pronunciation frowned on by Gill 
(1621) as vulgar It was probably also omitted in huszmfe H5 5 i 85, etc , 
huszvifene O 21 113, though not so indicated in the spelling Berrord 
MA 2 I 43, etc , represents bearherd rather than bearward 

Good-bye has undergone a strange transformation from God be zmth 
you O I 3 189, which has in Shakespeare the following intermediate forms 
God buy you AYL 3 2 274, H 2 i 69, TN 4 2 108, God bu'y you H5 

5 I 70, God buy H 2 2 575 {God buy to you Q2) , God buy H 4 5 200 
( you Q2), God bu'y O i 3 189 (Qq) After the loss of [8] in un- 

5 For this development see Kihlbom, pp 163 ff 

6 EDGr, §247, Ekwall, §134 



stressed with, the phrase [biwijo] > [b3(w)ij9] > [b9i(9)], simul- 
taneously God was reduced to [g^d], which was later misinterpreted as a 
weak form of good 

The original pronunciation of Fr as [k] in loanwords like banquet, 
quote y which was later superseded by [kw] in conformity with the spell- 
ing, is reflected m banket AYL 2 5 64, T 3 3 SD, etc , cote (quote) RL 
812, coat(e) LLL 2 i 246, 5 2 795, coted LLL 4 3 87, coats TA 4 i 50 
(Q), in the pun coat-quote, and in Mrs Oiiickly's contigian (quotidian) 
H5 2 I I24and canaries (quandaries) MWW 2 2 61, provided this is a Ro- 
mance word, mhcker (liquor) MWW 2 i 197 (Q) and hcounsh (liquo- 
rice) TmA 4 3 194, [k] has survived to the present day Note the inverted 
spelling quoije (coif) 2H4 i i 147 and requoyle (recoil) WT i 2 154 
Ke-tha P 2 i 82 and ke you H i 2 (Q) lepresent two weak forms of 

quoth, with loss of [w] as in Gill’s ‘'Koth vel quoM' , ^ the former there- 
fore stands for koth-a, usually written quotha, and the latter for the more 
common variant ko (plus pronoun) as in Udall’s Roister Doister 3335-6 
ko she, ko I The omission of [w] in the Germanic word qualm, punning 
on calm, has no phonological parallel, so far as I know , perhaps it was a 
h3q)ercorrect pronunciation on the analogy of Fr words beginning with 
qu Quirnsters (choristers) H8 4 i SD reflects the older form of the word 
which has actually come down to the present century (OED) 

The name Jaques was usually a monosyllable, pronounced exactly like 
the noun jakes, on which Touchstone puns m AYL 3 3 74 In addition 
there must have existed a disyllabic form to judge by the scansion of AYL 
2 I 26 and LLL 2 i 42 , this also appears at the end of 11 41 and 43 and in 
AW 3 44 The same disyllabic variant is used by Greene in Friar Bacon 
and Friar Bungay Jaquesse 816, Jaquis 1095, 1216, an odd name 

for an allegedly German magician, Vandermast ® Since the disyllabic form 
of J agues used in Fr poetry is [3a kos] , we should expect the correspond- 
ing English pronunciation to be [d3^ikis] — ^m Shakespeare [d3§kis] — 
and not the apparently traditional [d3^ikwiz] as recorded by Jones and 
others , ® its [kw] , for which there is no early authority, must be a spelling- 
pronunciation deduced from the above line in AYL 

7 Logonomta Anghca, p 73 See also Jordan, §162 3 

8 Vandermast appears without any Christian name in The Famous Histone of 
Fryer Bacon, the source of Greene’s play, and Jaquis is therefore his invention More 
appropriately it is the name of the Frendiman Steur Jaques in Greene’s The Scottish 
History of Janies the Fourth, here, too, the name is disyllabic, eg, 11 1297, 1307, 
1311, etc 

9 Jones, An English Pronouncing Dictionary, and Ripman, p 214, Kenyon, A 
Pronouncing Dictionary of American English, has a variant [dsekwiz], which shows 
assimilation to Greek names in -es, eg, Hercules 

CONSONANTS [w] AND [iw] 33I 

The pun qm's, quae's, quod's-keys, case, cods presupposes a pronuncia- 
tion of Lat qu 2is [k] , which as G C Moore Smith informs us ^ was then 
current on the continent and must also have prevailed in England at the same 
time, thus in the middle of the i6th century Ramus was criticized by the 
Sorbonne for pronouncing qmsqms instead of ktskts ^ As a matter of fact, 
Shakespeare himself confirms the use of [k] for Lat qu by Slender's 
Coram MWW i i 6 for Quorum, note further condam (quondam) 1537 
(OED) The above pun was probably suggested to him by a similar 
wordplay in Nashe, ‘The Epistle Dedicatorie," Have with You to Saf- 
fron Walden (1596) “or his fellow qm quce codshead" , yet these 
may just as well have been popular puns among grammar-school boys m 
the 1 6th century ® 

1 A Grammatical Miscellany Offered to Otto Jespersen, pp 169 f He mentions 
the interesting fact that Alexander Neckam (who died in 1227) was nicknamed in 
Latin Nequam , he also quotes these two lines from Hood’s poem “The Irish School- 
master,” which reveal that [k] for Lat qu was extant in Ireland up to the beginning 
of the 19th century 

Ah, luckless wight who cannot then repeat 
“Corduroy Colloquy” or “Ki, kae, kod ” 

2 N & Q , Dec 12, 1914, p 473, where quoted from Sandys, History of Classical 
Scholarship, 2, 184 

3 The quibble reappears in John Taylor’s A Whore “and knowes to joyne her 
qui*s, her qucB*s, and quods ” 


Direct information on the accentuation of polysyllabic words is slight 
during the Elizabethan period, and where given it is only incidental and 
unsystematic It is true that Peter Levins is generous with accent-marks 
in his Mampulus vocahulorum (1570), but we cannot be certain that his 
inconsistently used accents always indicate stress He has been char- 
acterized as “our most important witness of i6th century accentuation,” ^ 
an estimate fairly safe inasmuch as contemporary grammarians tell us 
almost nothing about stress in polysyllabic words Of interest, however, 
is Mulcaster’s (1582) statement that polysyllabic words tend to be ac- 
cented on the antepenult, a rule that also appears in Puttenham (1589) ^ 

Information becomes rather more explicit in the 17th century There 
are valuable observations on English stress in Butler’s Enghsh Gt ammar 
(1634) and Cooper’s GrammaUca hnguae Anghcanae (1685), while the 
accentuation of individual words is fairly often indicated in John Minsheu’s 
dictionary, Mmshaei emendaho, etc (1627), and Owen Price’s word 
lists in The Vocal Organ (1665) and Enghsh Orthographe (1668, 1670) 
Not, however, until the i8th century do we begin to get regular indication 
of stress in dictionaries and spelling books One of the earliest, and at the 
same time one of the best sources, is Thomas Dyche, A Dictionary of All 
the Words Commonly Us^d m the Enghsh Tongue, etc (1723), to which 
I shall have occasion to refer later 

Thus It is clear that Shakespeare’s verse — ^and the verse of his con- 
temporaries — ^is almost our sole source of information on Elizabethan 
accentuation Readers of Shakespeare are familiar with such deviations 
from modem usage as antique AYL 2 i 431, complete H i 4 52, character 
H I 3 59, and revenue AC 3 6 30 to cite only four examples, readily in- 
ferrable from the scansion of the lines in question Hundreds of other ex- 
amples will be found listed in Appendix 2, where they have been arranged 

1 Danielson, p 400 The best treatment of Shakespeare’s accentuation as revealed 
in his verse is Konig, pp 63.-76, despite occasional errors Danielson’s treatment of 
certain aspects of the same problem (pp 577-86) is unfortunately marred by his 
reliance on Sir George Young’s phonologically absurd theories Note further Jesper- 
sen’s chapter on ^‘Stress,” particularly §§5 41-5 9, m his Grammar, i , also Franz, 
PP 94 ~ 9 > and Schmidt, pp 1413-15 

2 Danielson, pp 400! 




m two principal groups (i) words having the principal stress on the 
first syllable, and (2) words having the principal stress on the second 
syllable, in each case with further subdivision according to the number 
of their syllables These extensive lists of words, now accented differently, 
include a large number of instances of rhythmically variable stress, stiictly 
speaking, a prosodical rather than a phonological feature 

Significantly enough, only words of classical or Romance origin appear 
in the lists The reason is, of course, that such words when adopted into 
English had a system of accentuation other than that of the native Ger- 
manic words The inevitable conflict between two different stress-systems 
gave rise to considerable vacillation in ME and eNE, which eventually led 
to a reaccentuation of many Romance words according to native English 
principles, though others retained their original stress or continued to 
waver between the two systems This accentual instability, still noticeable 
in a good many Romance words, was quite marked in Shakespeare's Eng- 
lish, even allowing for the fact that it was often of a rhythmical or func- 
tional nature Native Germanic words, too, show occasional variations in 
stress, but these are almost exclusively due to rh3rthmical causes 

There must always be a considerable element of uncertainty when one 
has to infer the stress of a word solely from a poet's scansion If this is 
consistent, its testimony may well be accepted Even so, verse stress is not 
the same thing as word stress Generally the two stresses coincide, and 
such congruity was apparently one of the fundamental rules of 16th- 
century prosody (cf Danielson, p 440) Nevertheless, infinite varia- 
tions in rh3rthm may be set up by creating a tension between the verse 
stress on one hand and the word accent and sentence stress on the other 
Subtle stress manipulations of this sort, whether conscious or not, con- 
cern us here only insofar as they can help to explain seemingly abnormal 
word accents, though they will have to be taken into consideration in any 
reconstruction of Shakespeare's pronunciation that attempts something 
more than a purely lexical transcription of the words 

It IS presumably a combination of verse stress and the inherent tend- 
ency to Germanic accentuation that will best explain the frequent cases of 
stress vacillation in disyllabic words of Romance origin As a rule, the 
regular iambic beat does not permit stress patterns like absurd pomp 
(H 3 2 65) or some obscure precedence (LLL 3 i 83) but strives to re- 
place them by and ^ - x respectively The result may be shift- 

ing of the accent in absurd^ obscure, thus - instead of — , or possibly a 
compromise, what is sometimes called hovering accent or level stress, with 
a spondee-like effect ® End-stressed Romance disyllables are normally 

3 I see no valid reason for rejecting the principle of the hovering accent as a 



treated m this way when immediately followed by a stressed syllable This 
IS true of the adjectives absurd, austere, benign, complete, condign, con- 
trite, corrupt, demure, direct, distinct, distract, divine, entire, exact, 
expert, express, e\treme, impure, mature, obscure, projane, profound, 
remiss, secure, severe, sincere, supreme, terrene ^ It is equally true of the 
attnbutively used past participles of the verbs assure, conceal, condemn, 
confess, confine, confirm, congeal, contrive, despise, disease, disperse, 
distress, enjoin, exhale, exile, expire, impress, peiturb, proclaim, renew, 
resolve, subdue , and occasionally of disyllabic verbs and nouns when fol- 
lowed by a stressed syllable, like cashier, condemn, congrue, create, expel, 
infect, maintain, ordain, project, replant, respect, reveal, subdue , further 
disease, excuse, pursuit, reflect, relapse, revenge, success The interdepend- 
ence of verse stress and word accent is demonstrable in almost all the in- 
stances just quoted , cf eg, lick absurd pomp with their most absurd in- 
tents (AC 5 2 226) or our compelVd sins (MM 2 4 57) with to a compelVd 
restraint (AW 2 4 44) The above instance of corrupt (H 5 i 132) is par- 
ticularly noteworthy because the word occurs a second time m the very 
same line stressed - Might corrupt minds procure knaves as corrupt ® 
On the other hand it is hard to determine the precise relationship between 
the metrical stress and the word accent in such cases as I derived liberty 
TmA 128, Has deserv'd prison WT 2 i 120, Can advise me like you H8 
I I 13s, Who redeems nature L 46 210, Will remain hers Cy 2 4 3, Fll 
return consul C 3 2 135, Less appear $0 WT 2 3 56, and in the mature time 
L 4 6 282 

Antique, spelled anticke AYL 2 i 31, J 4 2 21, etc , is always stressed 
on the first syllable, irrespective of meaning , Jespersen suggests a rela- 
tively recent reborrowing from the French ® to account for the modern 
accentuation Baboones, which occurs in the Witches’ incantation (M 
4 I 37) f may reflect an archaic form with initial stress, to be inferred from 

possible explanation of divergences between verse stress and word accent, Young^s 
arguments notwithstanding, quoted tn extenso by Danielson, pp 447-8 On the other 
hand, the fact that many early loanwords still have accentual doublets, like direct- 
direct, divers-dwers, extreme-exti erne (in extreme unction), conjunct-conjunct, 
content-content, etc , favors the assumption of similar doublets in eNE 

4 For similar rhythmical variation in modem English see Jones, English Phonetics, 
§§932 fl , 954 

5 The prosy quality of this line makes it very hard to read it fluently as verse 
One would like to know how Elizabethan actors read it 

6 Grammar, §5 54 Adjustment to the French accentuation is perhaps a simpler 



such early spellings as babewyn 5, babwyne 6 (OED) and the variant 
Bavian TNK 3 5 132 C 6 nstrue stands for the common variant conster, 
whether so spelled or not July preserved its original Latin stress on the 
fiist syllable {c^Juhi) up to the time of Dr Johnson (OED), and 
machine is often stressed in the same way during the 17th and i8th cen- 
turies (cf the spelling machin 7-8, OED) Early forms like mainten, 
maynten 3-6 (OED) point to initial stress, which was probably going out 
of fashion in the i6th century 

The functional or phonemic use of stress, illustrated in modern Eng- 
lish by extract (n ) versus extract (vb), is not yet fully established or 
fixed There is, e g , clear distinction between torment (n ) and torment 
(vb), except perhaps in Cy 5 S 142 Which torments me to conceal By 
villany , if, however, we assume a disyllabic thesis in the first foot, we 
obtain normal stressing of torments and conceal Other words of this 
category fluctuate a great deal Thus contract (vb) is end-stressed, but the 
noun vacillates between - and ^ -, with preference for the former ac- 
centuation Conduct (vb) is always end-stressed, while the noun is regu- 
larly forestressed, except once, TA 4 4 65, a doubtful case The verbs 
confine and exile have end-stress except when used attributively, whereas 
the nouns vacillate, similarly presage (vb) and record (vb) are stressed 
- •^, but the nouns - and - On the other hand, the nouns envy, so- 
journ, and triumph have forestress, while the verbs are unstable, the 
variant envy (vb), which survived into the 17th century, is still used 
dialectally (OED) Refuge (n ) is stressed -, the vb — But both the 
n and the vb cement have forestress. Levins (1570) gives the n with 
this stress, and so does Dyche (1723) The same is true of complot (n , 
vb) and descant (n , vb) Combat (n , vb) has initial stress except pos- 
sibly once, Combat with adverse planets in the heavens (1H6 i i ^^4) 
Like similar cases of comfort (n , vb) beginning a line (CE 3 2 26, 2H6 
3 2 38, R2 3 2 75, 82, O 42 159), this may be regarded as an instance 
of stress inversion, the same explanation may apply to JC 2 i 284, RJ 
35210, so that the only instance of comfort (vb) , stressed — , seems to be 
R2 3 2 13 ^ Perfect (adj , vb) has forestress except in MND 3 2 137, 
where the adj is accented — 

Always stressed on the second syllable are the following disyllables 
(M, Sp after a word indicates that the same accentuation is used by Mil- 
ton and/or Spenser) aspect (M, Sp), commerce (for similar stressing 
see OED), conjunct, contents (M, Sp), converse (M), exploit (M, Sp, 

7 But note that comfort (n ) is stressed - m Spenser, FQ II 5 31 8, where it 
rhymes with consort (n ) 



Dyche), import (Dyche), instinct (M), portent (M), pretext (M, Sp, 
Dyche), protest {T>ycht) , survey (M, Dyche), turmoil (Dyche) , further 
abject, conflur, intnnse, precinct, reflex, which occur only once each 
Note also the parodic use of end-stress in certain MND 5 i 131 

Variable are access (Dyche — ), adverse (Dyche - •^), chastise and 
comrade, for which see OED, conquest, consort, divers, outrage, precept, 
relapse Out of 16 instances of compact (n , vb) only two, 1H6 5 4 163 and 
TN 5 I 163, have initial stress , the latter can, however, be stressed - if 
we syncopate ceremony to cer’mony as elsewhere And all the ceremony of 
this compact 

Among the words of three or more syllables we notice the use of initial 
stress in attribute (vb), contumely (usually so today), corrosive,^ empiric 
(Dyche), horizon, so stressed by Gascoigne, Shakespeare, and Sylvester, 
according to OED, medicinal (with syncopation of the second syllable), 
observant, perspective (Levins), quintessence,^ rheumatic,^ and utensil, 
which was so stressed down to about 1800 (OED) , further conventicle 

and receptacle, which Dyche stresses respectively and - — 

Other interesting cases are enginer, spelled also ingemeur and inginer, 
muleter, pioner, purveyor (Levins has purveigh), recorder, successor 
(Dyche) and surveyor Executor follows the vb , for the distinction be- 
tween executer and executor see OED 

The word theatre occurs four times in Shakespeare’s -verse, viz , AYL 
2 7 I 37 > J 2 I 375 , JC I 3 152, R2 5 2 23, in each case stressed on the first 
syllable , in J 2 i 375, however, two scansions are possible, viz , As in a 
theati e, whence , in which case there will be a disyllabic thesis in 
the caesura, or, less likely, As in a theati e, whence The latter 
accentuation of theatre, which is evidenced in Lydgate, was doubtless 
heard in colloquial speech, today it is considered a vulgarism (OED) 

Variable are character (n , vb), stressed either ^ - or - depend- 
ing on the meter, 2 confessor (see OED), contrary (n , adj ), prescience, 
revenue, spelled revennew AYL 3 2 397, MND i i 6, etc ^ sepulchre, 
sequestei , successive, superfluous Effectual TA 5 3 43 (^‘A reason mighty, 

strong, and effectual”) should probably be stressed , which gives 

the fourth foot a disyllabic thesis 

8 The earlier stress on the first syllable is clearly shown by the syncopated variants 
corsie, corstve (OED) 

9 Note the syncopated form quintessence in Quarles (OED) , Milton sti esses it 

^ “ (PI 3 716) and (PL 7244) 

r For parallels see Damelson, p 379 

2 According to OED both were often stressed - - in the i6th-i7th centuries 

3 The stress - ■^, now obsolescent, may still be heard in legal and parliamentary 
circles (OED, Jones, An English Pronouncing Dictionary) 



The following are stressed on the second syllable advertise (and ad- 
vertisement), authorize, canonize (but solemnize vacillates),^ dividant 
(so indicated in OED), gallantly, opportune, misconstrue (see construe 
above), per sever and perseverance (the usual pronunciation down to the 
middle of the 17th century or later, OED) retinue (usually so in the i6th- 
17th centuries, OED), sinister, so stressed down to the time of Pope 
(OED), subsequent, and triumpher Pistol’s mervailous is clearly an 
archaic form, which he had supposedly picked up from some popular 
play Of the words in -ate the following are stressed on the second syllable 
extirpate, illustrate, obdmate (except TGV 42120), but confiscate, 
demonstrate vary ® The same stress is used in charactery, characterless, 
epicurism (so Bailey, 1736, according to O'ED) , interrupter , effigies AYL 
2 7 193 and pyr amides AC 5 2 61 preserve that Latin accentuation (see 

Most of the words in -able, -Me are stressed on the first syllable in 
Shakespeare, viz , acceptable, delectable, detestable, demonstrable, divida- 
ble, medicinable (with syncopation of the first i), perdurable, supportable,^ 
but commendable and mvisible vary, there is no doubt that invisible could 

be stressed (see p 267, above) Of the words m -ary, -ory two 

are stressed on the first syllable, viz , accessary and consistory, while 
peremptory vanes , interrogatory is stressed on the second syllable, with 
the third syncopated , see the spellings on p 377 and cf Henslowe’s intar- 
greytoi yes 

Germanic words, too, are liable to rhythmic stress-shifting, but since 
such variations, so far as they can be established from the printed text, 
are of a prosodic nature, it will be sufficient to adduce here only a few 
typical examples ^ Thus disyllabic compound nouns and adjectives are 
stressed on the first or second syllable depending on whether or not the 
following word has initial stress Compare daylight MND 3 2 427 and 
daylight MND 3 2 433, midnight T i 2 228 and midnight T i 2 128, man- 
kind TmA 43 42 and mankind TmA 4 i 36, coal-black TA 3 2 78 and 
coal-black (n ) R2 5 i 49, etc But woodbine MND 2 i 251 and Sunday 
TS 2 I 326 are stressed on the first syllable though they rhyme with 
stressed -me and -ay (see p 34, above) ® 

The same practice is followed when the first part of the compound is a 
particle, as in outside MV i 3 lo^-outside TmA i i 159, upright MV 

4 For the accentuation of the words m -tee see Danielson, pp 239 ff 

5 For parallels of the individual words see Danielson 

6 Cf Danielson, pp 233 ff 

7 For a fuller treatment see Komg, pp 64 ff 

8 Komg, p 64, errs in stressing it Sunday - 



4 I 2^0-upnght 1H6 3 I g^, gainsay WT 3 2 SJ-gainsaymg WT i 2 18, 
and forlorn S 33 y-forlorn LLL 5 2804 Welcome is nearly always ac- 
cented on the first syllable as m T 5 i iii, the only exception I have 
found being welcome R2 2 3 170 , 1 cannot believe that the numerous cases 
of welcome as the first foot of a line, eg, ‘Welcome to Troy, now by 
Anchises’ life, / Welcome indeed*” (TC 4121-2), were otherwise 
stressed than ® Note also farewell H i i 16 versus farewell H i 2 39 
(Q2), etc , both accentual forms frequently spelled farwel{l) , see p 179, 

Nouns, adjectives, and verbs with the prefix un- show the same vacil- 
lation, e g , untruth H8 4 2 ^^untruth R2 2 2 100, unkind RJ 5 3 145- 
unkind CE 4 2 21, unsure M 5 4 ig-unsure H 4451, unfold WT 412- 
unfold H I 5 15, undone M i 5 26-undone M 5 5 50, etc Pronominal ad- 
verbs behave in the same way, e g , thereon LLL 4 3 2g$-thereon WT 
I 2 445, wherefore Hs 5 2 i-whei efore R3 4 4 476, and so on 

Finally the accentuation of certain names in Shakespeare merits atten- 
tion To judge by the scansion the following were stressed on the first 
syllable Amiens AYL 2 i 29, Angiers J 2 i 17, 22 (but - J 2 i i), 
Barnardine MM 4 2 63 (but - - MM 4 2 68), Bartholmew TS pr i 105, 

Bordeaux R2 5 6 33, etc Brabant Hs 2 4 5, 4 8 loi, LLL 2 i 114, 115, 
Callice 3H6 I I 238, etc , Clothair H5 i 2 67, Dunsinane M 5 2 12 (but 
apparently - - M 4 i 93), Euphrates AC i 2 105, Fleans M 3 2 37, etc , 

Galathe TC 5 5 20, Kymmalton (Kimbolton) H8 4 i 34, Lepidus AC 
I 4 3 6 32, JC 4 1 2, 7 (but apparently - - AC 2 i 14, JC 3 2 269), 

Longavilley for which see p 214, above, Machevill (Machiavel) 3H6 
3 2 193,^ Millaine T i 2 54, etc (but - T 2 i 132), Mytilene, for which 
see p 186, above, Nemian H i 483, LLL 4 i 90, Ottamites O i 3 33, 
23s,® Philostrate MND i i ii. Pippins (Pepin) H5 1265 (Q), Post- 
humus Cy I I 41, 4 2 320 (but Cy 1 1 74, i/^^),Reignier 1H6 5 3 131, 

etc (but - 1H6 I 2 61, 6s),Stephano T 5 i 277 (but - - MV 5 i 28, 

51), Tamora TA i i 139, etc Note that Lucrece is always stressed — in 
RL, except 11 7 and 512, where the stress falls on the second syllable, in 
the plays there are 3 instances of - (TA 4 i 64, TS 2 i 298, TN 25116) 
against one — (TA 2 i 108) And lachimo Cy 2 4 26, 3 4 48, etc (always 
trisyllabic), must have been pronounced ['jaekimo ] or [‘dssek^mo ] , 

9 Komg, p 65, postulates the stress - m such cases 

1 Spelled Burde{a)tix 2H4 2469, R2 5633, since Henslowe likewise spells 
the name burdoche, burdockes, it certainly looks as if it had been popularly pronounced 
['bs jd^ks] 

2 The spelling Maichavtl MWW 3 1 104 (Q) seems to indicate a collo<iuial or 
vulgar pronunciation with medial [tj] 

3 The instance at O 1 3 33 gives the impression of having four syllables 



the modern form [ai'sekimou] is presumably a spelling-pronunciation 
The second syllable received the stress m Alanson H8 3 2 85, LLL 

2 I 61 (but LLL 2 I 195), Andromache TC 5 3 77,^ Andromcus 

TA I I 37, etc (regularly),® Anthenor TC 3 3 18, etc , Argier T i 2 261, 

Asfrea 1H6 i 6 4,® Balthasar CE 3 i 19, 22 ^ (but CE 5 i 223, RJ 

5 I 12), Bermoothes T i 2 229, Berowne LLL 1115 (rhyming with moon 
LLL 4 3 230) , Boyet, rhyming with debty Casstbulan Cy 3 i 30, Chatilhon 
Jill, 30, Cleomtnes WT 2 i 184, etc , Dumame LLL i i 15, etc , Egeus 

MND I I 21, Gonsalo T 2 i 265, etc (but T 5 i 68 ) , Hermtone WT 

I 2 88, etc , I ago O i i 2, etc , Marcellus (Marseilles) TS 2 i 377, AW 
449 (spelled Marcellce, but Marcellus AW 4 5 85), Meloone (Melun) J 
4 3 15, etc , Messala JC 4 3 163, etc , Panthino TGV i 3 i, Parolles AW 

4 3 373» Pentapohs P 3 pr 34, etc , Plantagenet 3H6 i i 40, etc , Pohjienes 

WT I 2 353, etc (but possibly — - WT 2 i 61), Rosignoll AW i 2 18, 

etc , Thatsa P S i 213, etc (but apparently — P 5 i 212) 

The following names were stressed on the third syllable with strong 
secondary accent on the first Ahena AYL i 3 130, Arviragus Cy 3 3 96, 

5 5 359 j Capaneus TNK i i 59, Cleopatra AC i i 43, etc , Enobarbus AC 
499, etc , Katherina TS i i 52, etc 

4 The name is trisyllabic at TC 5 3 84, its final e being apparently mute 

5 Henslowe spells it ondromcust its first 0 standing for unstressed [9] 

6 Hart (Arden ed , p 43) erroneously makes it tetrasyllable, not realizing that the 
preceding creature is trisyllabic 

7 The accentuation is probably to be inferred from these doggerel lines 


The following diagram showing the approximate positions of Shake- 
speare's vowels and diphthongs m the vowel figure does not include pos- 
sible dialectal variants like [a] and [y], for which see pp 162 and 243, 
above The quantitatively different vowels [g] and [9 ], [se] and [ae ], 
[a] and [a ] have been denoted by [^( )], [ 3 e( )] and [a( )], respec- 
tively, while the two diphthongs [01] and [ou] have been symbolized by 
arrows indicating their starting and finishing points 

The principal ME sources of Shakespeare's vowels and diphthongs are 
as follows 

[1 ] was regularly used for ME e in he, seem, deer, etc , for ME ? as the 
colloquial variant of [^ ] in several words discussed on pp 199 f , and 
occasionally instead of normal [i] in give (p 213) Usual spelling e, 
efe^ ee, le, and sometimes ea 

[i] was used for independent ME i in hit, city, etc , often for ME e in 
devil, get, yet, together, etc , for shortened ME e in been, sheep, etc , 
alternating with foi] in final -me, -we, -ly, -y (p 219), and occasion- 
ally for ME eu (stressed and unstressed) m limn, opulent (p 210) 
Usual spelling i, y, and sometimes e 
[§] was used for independent ME e in bed, debt, etc , for shortened ME f 

I That IS, e + consonant + e, as in these , similarly a/e, etc , stands for a + con- 
sonant + e, as m name, etc 



in breathy feast, etc (p 201 ), and occasionally for ME t in hither, spirit, 
etc (p 212) Usual spelling e, ea 

] was used for independent ME a in name, tale, etc , for independent 
ME ai in rain, tail, etc , and for independent ME § in sea, dream, beast, 
etc (sometimes alternating with [1 ] , see pp 199 f ) Usual spelling 
a, a/e, ai, ay, ei, ey, e, e/e, ea 

[e ], followed by weakly articulated [j], was used for ME dr, air in hare, 
fair, etc , and, sometimes alternating with [u], for ME er, |r in ear, 
tear, here, fear, etc , perhaps also in earth, search (see p 252) Usual 
spelling are, air{e), ere, ear{e), eir(e) 

[se] was used for independent ME d m hat, marry, etc Usual spelling a 
[ae ] was used for ME d followed by [f, s, 6] in after, ask, bath, etc , and 
before n + consonant in Romance words like dance, grant , also for ME 
au in laugh, half (see pp 183 f ) Usual spelling a, au 
[a ], followed by weakly articulated [i], was used for ME dr and er in 
far, harm, serve, person, virtue, etc , and occasionally for ME dr (see 
p 226) , It may have been a variant of [as ] in after, ask, bath, etc , and 
dialectally of [o ] for ME au Usual spelling ar, er, ear 
[a] or [d] was used for ME d in want, wash, etc (p 171) 

[a ] was used for a in ME war, warm, etc, where, however, the coi- 
responding rounded vowel [d ] or possibly [o ] may have occurred 

[d] was used for independent ME d in god, rock, etc , for shortened ME g 
in gone, hot, etc , and sporadically for ME d + nasal (p 166) , it ap- 
pears, moreover, to have been a variant of [a] in tongue (p 243) 
Usual spelling o 

[d ] was used for ME d followed by [f, s, 0 , j] in off, frost, broth, storm, 
etc , with [a ] as a sporadic variant in doff, short, etc (p 225) , fur- 
ther, for ME ou in bought, sought, etc , and for ME au in law, all, 
cause Usual spelling 0, ou, au, aw, and al + consonant 
[o ] was used for independent ME g in go, stone, boat, etc , and for ME 
ou in know, soul, hold, etc , it seems to have alternated with [a] in 
one, once, none (p 232) Usual spelling o{e), o/e, oa, ou, ow, and 
ol 4- consonant 

[u ] was used for independent ME q in do, moon, prove, etc , and as a 
sporadic variant of [0 ] in home, roam, etc (p 231 ) , it was also used 
after [j] in new, few, duke, etc (ME eu, §u) Usual spelling 0, 00, 
oe, o/e, and for [ju ] ew, ue, u/e, eau 
[u] was used for ME u preceded by a labial consonant as m bush, pull, 
etc , and for shortened ME q in good, stood, etc Usual spelling u, 00 
[a] was used for independent ME u in cut, sun, etc , for shortened ME q 



in blood, other, etc , for shortened ME Q in none, once, struck (p 231), 
and for ME ong in among, wrong (see p 243) Usual spelling u, 0, 
00, ou 

[3 ], followed by weakly articulated [j], was used for ME ir, ur in hrd, 
burn, etc , and, as a more or less common variant of [a j] , for ME er in 
person, heard etc Usual spelling er, ir, ur, ear, or 
[au] was used for ME u in down, allow, etc , and before weakly articulated 
[j] as a variant of [o i] for ME ur in hour, power, etc Usual spelling 
ou, ow, ough 

[91] was used for ME % in mile, fine, etc , and for ME oi in boil, join, 
etc (but [di] in boy and, as an occasional variant, in destroy, etc ) 
Usual spelling i, le, i/e, y(^), ^y(^), 01, oy 
[9] was the normal unstressed vowel, e g , in about, gallop, modern , in 
several prefixes and suffixes it probably alternated with [i] (see pp 
256 ff) 

Shakespeare's Consonants 



















P b 


hw w 

f V 

0 tS 

t d 

s z, r J 





k g 


The consonants were pronounced in the same way as today, except 
possibly final and preconsonantal r, now silent in St E , which may still 
have been weakly sounded (see p 315) Its precise quality, however, is 
hard to ascertain, but most likely it was a weak alveolar fricative or 
frictionless continuant, with or without a preceding glide [9] , this 
variant has here been denoted by [j] to distinguish it from the initial and 
intervocalic [r] Shakespeare himself may have used the retroflex [r] 

The omission and addition of consonants characteristic of Elizabethan 
English has been discussed in detail above (pp 296 ff ) Of particular 
interest is the pronunciation of unstressed -ing as [in] or [n] (p 313) , 
further, the colloquial loss of I in should, would , the nonpronunciation of k 
and g in initial kn and gn (with [nn] as a conservative variant of [n] 
for kn , see p 304) , the nonpronunciation of gh in bright, though, etc , 
the marked tendency to drop initial h in colloquial speech , the assibilation 
of [s] and [j] to [J] in martial, suit, etc , and the survival of [t] for 
orthographic th in words like author, throne 


A consistent reconstruction of Shakespeare’s pronunciation on the 
basis of the available phonological data is no easy undertaking for the 
simple reason that the language of the period was an3^hing but consistent 
Its many phonetic doublets arising from dialectal rivalry or from the 
struggle between a conservative and a more advanced (colloquial) type 
of pronunciation pose problems of transcription that can sometimes be 
solved only arbitrarily Moreover, though the majority of the postulated 
sound values are no doubt correct, others are tentative or approximate and 
to a certain extent dependent on the reader’s interpretation of the phono- 
logical evidence Take for instance u in cut In my opinion it stands for a 
sound almost like modern [a], though perhaps somewhat less open, and 
I have therefore transcribed it [a] throughout Those who feel that the 
vowel was closer to [u] than to [a] should not, however, be disturbed by 
this [a] , it has been used here in preference to the less clear [ui] ^ and 
may consequently be interpreted as a sound that was no longer [u] but 
an unrounded, more or less centralized and lowered variety, perhaps [ui] , 
presumably [a] The same is true of [a ] in jar, arm — ^the Shakespearean 
vowel may well have been modern [a ],^ but [a ] seems the more likely 
sound at this period, especially if we postulate [a ] in war and not [o ] , 
for despite such rhymes as jar war, harm warm I find it hard to believe 
that jar and war had exactly the same vowel My use of [a] in want 
and of [a ] in war is likewise phonemic rather than strictly phonetic 
the two symbols indicate an open back vowel with or without lip-roundmg, 
either [a] and [a ] or [d] and [d ] 

The Shakespearean selections transcribed in the following pages repre- 
sent various styles of late 16th-century speech ranging from the stately 
oratory of Mark Antony and John of Gaunt to the colloquial idiom of 
Mrs Quickly and her company Phonetically, however, these extremes 
were less far apart than they would be today While formal delivery did 
not eschew colloquialisms, one of its salient features must have been a 
more or less marked tendency to spelling-pronunciation, probably accom- 
panied by a fairly restricted use of weak forms At any rate, whether 

1 As used in my article “Shakespeare’s Pronunciation,” pp 159 ff 

2 But It was defimtely not [se ] 




rightly or wrongly, this has been my working hypothesis in transcribing 
passages obviously spoken in an elevated style But when dealing with 
Mrs Quickly's pronunciation, I have freely used such characteristics of 
vulgar London speech as seem to emerge from occasional spellings in 
Shakespeare and his contemporaries Thus I have consistently lepresented 
her as an /z-dropper, even though she may actually have shared this trait 
with her social superiors Similarly I have made her use [w] instead of 
[m] for initial tvh 

Sentence stress and woid stress (pnmaiy and secondary) have been 
indicated by stress marks preceding the stressed syllable, even in the 
case of monosyllabic words, but subtle gradations of sentence stress have 
not been attempted, in verse, however, the possible influence of the 
metrical stress on a normally unstressed word has sometimes been shown 
by printing its strong instead of its weak form It is far from unlikely that 
the speakers of Elizabethan verse were more conscious of metrical stress 
than we are today 

Sandhi is shown by a hyphen between the two words involved, e g , 
with the [wiS'So] , is set [iz-s^t] , the hyphen is also used m those rare 
cases when a normally syllabic consonant becomes nonsyllabic in verse 
before a word beginning with a vowel, e g , sudden and [sAdn-sn] , to be 
read as a disyllabic 

Sounds that may or may not have been heard have usually been en- 
closed within parentheses, e g , friends [fr§n(d)z] , the same method has 
been followed with regard to the uncertain quantity of words like heaven, 
which have therefore been written [h^( )vn], [ 9 'g?( )n] 

The vowel in unstressed prefixes and suffixes like de-, en-, re-, -ed, 
-less, -ness, which probably vacillated between [i] and [9] in everyday 
speech, has been consistently rendered [i] , this symbol consequently does 
duty for both [i] and [9] in defend, enrich, regret, ended, roses, forest, 
feailess, darkness, and similar words without any commitment in favor 
of one or the other sound That f i] was already commonly heard is evident 
fiom the spellings cited above (pp 257 ff ) Suffixal -ful has always been 
written [ful], though its colloquial form was probably [fl] When a nor- 
mally unstressed suffix becomes metrically stressed, as -ment in ornament 
MV 3 2 74, it has nevertheless been written [mont] , although many Eliza- 
bethan actors may have tended to pronounce it [m^nt] in such a case Only 
in rhyme have the full values been given to metrically stressed -ed, -ment, 
etc , as in buried dead, ornament content, etc 

The Shakespearean reflex of ME dr, m , ur, our m door, more, course, 
four, respectively, has regularly been written [01] (ur also [9uj]), 
whereas ME dr in storm appears as [d j] Those who believe that the two 


groups had already been leveled under [o je] may interpret this [o x] 
as [d j] 

As a rule the consonant h has been omitted in the weak forms of have, 
htm, her, etc , and of course m the fully stressed Romance words hetr, 
herb, honest, honor, hour, humble In all the other words h has been 
retained m order to facilitate the reading of the transcriptions, irrespective 
of whether or not the consonant was sounded (see p 308, above) , only 
when a pun is involved, as in hour-whore, has h been omitted, and simi- 
larly in the transcription of Mrs Quickly’s pronunciation 

Initial kn and gn have been written [n], regardless of whether con- 
servative speakers still used [nn] for kn and perhaps [r\n] for gn (see p 


Postvocalic and preconsonantal r has been rendered [i], even though 
it may already have been silent in the colloquial language (see p 315) 
The glide that had developed between a long vowel or diphthong and this 
[j] has usually not been indicated, except when in verse the relevant word 
requires an extra syllable, as in disyllabic flowers [flouojz], fire [foisj] 
A transcription [di j] (dear) may therefore be read [dioj], [dioj], 
[di9j], or literally, m verse, with the above exception, this glide was 
probably very weak, perhaps nonexistent 

My constant endeavor has been to reproduce as far as possible a nat- 
ural mode of speech, even though this may occasionally have resulted in 
minor inconsistencies Variant pronunciations not covered by the above 
general remarks have been accounted for m the notes to each passage 

Sonnet XVIII 

/ael 91 k9m'p8 j Si tu 9 ‘sAm9Jz 'd^ ^ 

Sou a jt 'mo 1 'IavIi 9 n(d) 'mo x 't^mp 9 ,r^( )t 
'rAf 'w 9 in(d)z du 'J? h 89 ‘da jbn ‘bAdz 9 V ‘m^ , 
9 n(d) 'sAmojz ' 1 ^ s 90 'o 1 tu 'Jo jt 9 'd^ t 
'sAmt 9 im 'tu 'hot Si '91 9 v 'h^( )vn '/ainz, 

9 n(d) 'd fn iz iz 'go Id kom'pl^kjn 'dimd, 

9n(d) '^vri 'fe x from 'fe x sAm'toim di'kloinz, 

2 morct [mo j] or possibly [mo j] 

3 winds, bIso [win(d)z] 

4 short, possibly [Ja jt] 

5 The stress of sometime seems to be rhythmically variable , cf 1 7 

6 often, perhaps [nfi?] 

7 from, if stressed [from] 



bi 't/se ns 9 J 'n^ tdjz n(d)3n 'ko js An'trimd 
bst ’S91 1’ta jnsl 'sAm^j 

no JL 'lu z ps'z^Jn 9v Saet ‘fe j tSsu '0 st, 10 

‘no j Jsel 'd^( )0 ‘brseg tSau 'wandsjst in iz-'J^ d, 
hw^n in i*ta jnol ‘binz t9 'tsim t59u 'gro st 
so 'log 9z ’m^n ksn *br^ 8 91 biz k9n 'si , 

'so 'log 'livz 'Sis 9n(d) 'Sis givz 'bif tu 'Si 

8 by, [bi] or [boi] 

9 eternal, less likely [I'ts jnol] 

II wandr*st (Q) seems to indicate that the second syllable was [sjst] rather than 
[rost] or [rist] , the first syllable may have had [d] 

14 gives, possibly [gi vz] 

Sonnet XXX 

'hw^n tu S9 'sgjnz 9V 'swi t 's9ibnt '0 d t 
91 'sAm9n 'Ap ri'm^mbr9ns 9v '0igz 'pae st, 

91 's9i 89 'laek 9v 'm^nj-9 '6ig 91 'so t 

9n(d) wiS 'o Id 'wo z 'nju 'w§ 1 mi 'di x 't9imz 'wg st, 

'S^n kaen 9i 'dr9un on '91 An'ju zd-t9 'flo , 
foj 'pr^Jos 'fr^n(d)z 'hid in 'd^( )0s 'd^ tlis 'noit, 

9n(d) 'wip 9'frg/ 'Iavz 'log sins 'kaensold 'wo, 

9n(d) 'mo n Sik'sp^ns 9v 'm^nj-9 'vaenijt 's9it 
'S^n kaen 9i 'gn v 9t 'gn vonsiz fo j'go n, 

9n(d) 'h^vili from 'wo tu 'wo 't^l 'o j 
89 'saed 9'k9unt 9v-'fo jbi'mo nid 'mo n, 
hwit/ 91 'nju 'pf 9z if not *pg d bi'fo x 

bot if 89 'hw9il 91 0igk on 'Si , 'di x 'fr^nd, 

'o 1 'b siz a j-ri'sto jd 9n(d) 'soroz '^nd 

6 inends, possibly [frin(d)z] 

9 f Oregon, perhaps [fo j'gnn] 

10 heavily, perhaps [’h^vi^bi] because of the metrical stress on -ly 

14 losses may have had [o] instead of [o ], and friend end [i] instead of [?] 



Sonnet XXXIII 

ful 'mgnj-3 'glo aj9S 'mo jnin hsev 'si n 
'flaet^j 89 'mQuntn 'tops wi9 'sAvrin '91, 

'kisn wiS 'go Idn 'fg s 89 'm^doz 'gn n, 

'gildn 'p^l 'str^mz wi8 'h^( )vnli 'aelk9,m9i, 

o'non poj'mit 89 'bg sist 'kbudz t9 'r9id s 

W18 'Agli 'rsek on iz-si'l^stj9l s, 

9n(d) from 89 'fo jlo in 'ws ild iz 'vizid3 'h9id, 

'st^ Iin 'ah'si n tu 'w^st wi8-8is dis'gr^ s 

'1 n 'so m(9)i 'sAn 'o n '3 jIi 'mo jti did 'Join 

W18 'd 1 troi'Amfont 'spl^ndoi on m(9)i 'brou, 10 

bAt 'out, 9'lsek, hi waz bAt '0 n 'o j 'mom, 

80 'r§ d3n 'kloud 90 'mse skt im from-mi 'nou 

'jit 'him foj ‘81S m(o)i 'Iav 'no 'hwit dis'd^ ni9, 

'sAnz ov 80 'w3 jid ni^ 'st^ n hw^n 'h§( )vnz-'sAn 'st^ ni0 

1 havCf when stressed, was also pronounced [hf v] 

2 sovereign had an early doublet with [o] , see Sf Dial , §306 

4 alchemy y spelled alcumy, had final [si] here because of the rhyme , its first sylla- 
ble may, however, have been pronounced [o 1 ], for John Taylor rhymes alcamy talke 
come I 

7 forlorUy normally [fsj'lo jn] or [fsj'b jn] 

9 early, perhaps ['e jIi] , cf p 252, above 

11 hour, possibly [sua] 

12 region may have had [1 ] 

14 yet, also [jft] 

Sonnet LV 

'not 'ma jbl, 'no j 89 'gildid 'moni.m^nts 
9v 'prinsiz, Jael outliv 8is 'poujful 'rsim, 
bot 'ju Jol 'Join 'mo 1 'broit in '81 z kon't^nts 

1 For [i] m monuments see p 258, above 

2 powerful, possibly ['po jful] 

3 these was pronounced [tS§ 2] according to Hart (1570), Bullokar (1585), Gill 
(1621), and Hodges (1644), but the variant [81 z] must have been current at the 
same time 



?59n 'Ati’sw^pt sto n bi'sme id wi0 'slAtiJ 'toim 
hw^n 'w^ stful ’wa i Jol 'staetiz ‘o voi’ts in 5 

9 n(d) 'broilz 'ru t 'out So 'w3 ik ov 'm§ sonn 
no I 'ma iz-iz 'so id no i 'wa iz ‘kwik 'foil Jol 'bs in 
So 'livn 'r^koid ov 'ju i ‘m^mori 
'g^nst 'd^( )9 on(d) 'd 1-o'blivjos ‘^nmiti 
Jol 'ju 'p§ s 'fo 10, 'ju I 'pr^ z Jol 'stil foind 'ru m lo 

'i n in Si 'oiz ov ‘d 1 po'st^riti 
Sot 'we I Sis 'ws ild 'out to Si '^ndn 'du m 
'so , til So 'd 3 Ad 3 mont Sset joi's^lf o'roiz, 

'ju 'liv in 'Sis, on 'dw^l in 'Iavoiz 'oiz 

4 besmeared, perhaps with [i j] 

5 For war see p 172, above The final syllable in statue may have been [tju] or 
[tju], the latter recommended by Shendan (1780) and Walker (1791) 

6 masonry, memory (8), enmity (9) and posterity (ii) may all have had final 
[oi], perhaps with secondary stress 

8 your was either [ju i] or [jo j], [jd j], probably with shortening of the vowel 
in yourself (1 13) , when fully unstressed it was [joj] 

Sonnet CXVI 

'l^t mi 'not to So 'maerid3 ov 'tru 'moin(d)z 
od'mit im'pgdimonts 'Iav iz 'not 'Iav 
hwitj 'oltoiz hw^n it .olto'r^ Jn 'foin(d)z, 

01 'b§n(d)z wiS-So ri'muvoi tu ri'mu v 

'o , 'no , it IZ on '^voi-'fiksid 'ma ik 

Sot 'luks Dn 't^mpists ond iz 'n^voi 'J§ kn 

It IZ 0 'sta I tu '^vri 'wandrin *ba ik, 

hu z 'w3 i0s 'An'no n, o I'So iz 'hoi0 bi 't^ kn 

'Iavz not 'toimz 'fu 1, So 'ro zi 'lips on 'tji ks 

wiS'in IZ 'b^ndn 'siklz 'kAmpos 'kAm 

'Iav '0 Itoiz 'not wiS iz 'bn f 'o iz on 'wi ks, 

bot 'be IZ It 'out '1 n to 5i '^d5 ov 'du m 

7 For the vowel in wander see p 171, above 

8 For [h9i9] , spelled htgth here, see p 320, above 

II hours seep 248 



if ‘ 8 is bi 9 ncl 9‘pDn mi ‘pru vd, 

91 'n^v 9 J ‘rit, no 1 'no 'maen '^v 9 J[ 'lAvd 

13-14 For the rhymes proved lozed and love remove (2-4), see p 243, above 
14 never (also 1 6) and ever may have had [i] 

The Tempest, 4 i 148-58 

9 UJ-'r^vlz n 9 u 9 i '^ndid '8^ z 9 UJ 'aekt 9 jz 

9z 91 fo I'to Id ju, W8 j 'd 1 'spirits aend 

9J 'm^ltid intu 'e i, intu '0in 'e 1 , 150 

9 n(d) 'l 9 ik 89 'b§ slis 'faebrik 9 v 8is Vi3n 

89 *kl9udkaept''t9mz, 89 ‘go jd39s 'paebsiz, 

89 'sDbm 't^mplz, 89 'gr§ t 'glo b it's^lf, 

'ji , 'o 1 hwitj It in'h^rit, Jael di'zolv, 

9 n(d) bik 8is ,ins 9 b'staenjl 'pasd 39 nt did iss 

' 1 ^ V not 9 'raek bi'(h) 9 ind 'wi aj 'sAtJ 'stAf 
9 z 'dr§ mz 9.1 'm§ d on, 9 n(d) 9 uj 'litl-'bif 
iz 'r 9 undid wi 8 9 'sli p 

148 Our was perhaps [o j], and there doubtless existed a weak form [oj] For 
these see above, Sonnet 55 , 1 3 
152 towers may have been [to az] 

154 very likely also ] 

157 dreamsy also [dri mz] 

A Midsummer Nighfs Dream, 1 2 

Quince iz 'ol 9 (u)j 'kAmpni 'e 

Bottom JU W9J 'b^st t9 'ko 1 9m 'd3inr9li, 'maen bi 'maen, 9'ko idn t9 
89 'skrip 

Quince '(h)£ j (i)z 89 'skro 1 9 v '^vri 'maenz 'n^ m witj iz ‘9o t 'fit, 
0ru 'd 1 'aeOinz, t 9 'pl§ in 9 (u)j '^nt 9 jlu d (bi)'fo 1 89 'dju k 911 'dAtJis 
onz 'w^dn 'd^ 9 t 'n 9 it 7 

Bottom 'fASt, 'gud 'pi t9j 'kwins, 's^ wot 89 'pl^ 'tr^ ts on '8§n 
'n d 89 'n§ mz 9 (v) 81 *3ekt9jz 9 n 'so 'gro tu 9 'p 9 int 10 

1 herey [(h)i j] or [(h) laj] 8 firsty [fs jst] 

2 you werey perhaps [ju( )j[] , see p 9 ready [r§ d] 

277 10 oj the actorsy [atS-'sektwz] 



Qmnce ’mseri, 9 (u)j 'pl^z ' 8 i 'mos(t) 'laemsnt.^bl 'kom^di 3en(d) 
'mos(t) 'kru ( 9)1 'd^ 9 9 f ’piromQS 9n(d) 'Gizbi 13 

Bottom 9 'vgri 'gud 'pi s 9v-'w3 jk, 91 9 ' Jo j j9, 9n(d) 9 'mgri 'n9u, 
'gud 'pi t9j 'kwins, 'kD 1 'fo jG j9-t '3ekt9JZ bi ?59 'skro 1 'mse st9jz, 
'spr^( )d J9j'sglvz 

Qmnce 'ae ns9j 9z 91 'ko 1 J9 'mk 'bDt9m S 9 'w^ V9j 

Bottom 'r^dr 'n§ m wot 'pa jt 9i 'sem io j, 9n pr9*si d 21 

Qmnce 'ju , 'nik 'bDt9m, 9j ‘s^t 'd9un f9J 'pir9m9s 

Bottom 'wDts 'pir9m9s^ 9 '1av9i, 9j 9 't9ir9n(t) 

Qmnce 9 ' 1 av 9 J[ 89t 'kilz im's^lf 'mo s 'gaebnt £91 'Iav 26 

Bottom 'Saet 1 'se sk S9m 'ti iz in t59 'tru p9j'fo xmn 9v it if 91 'du t, 
'l^t Si 'o dj9ns 'luk t9 Sai '9iz 91 I 'mu v 'sto jmz, 91 I k 9 n'do 1 in S 9 m 
'm^z9j tu 09 'r^st 'jit mi 'tji f 'ju m^iz f9J 9 't9ir9n(t) 9 i kud 'pl^ 
'3 jkbz 'rs ill, 9J 9 'pa it t9 'te i 9 'kset in, t9 'm^ k 'd 1 'split 32 

S9 'r^ d3n 'roks 
send 'Jivran 'Joks 

Jsel 'br^ k S 9 'Inks 35 

9 f 'prizn 'g^ ts 
aend 'fib9S 'ka i 
Jsel 'J 9 in from 'fa i 
3en(d) 'm^ k 9n(d) 'ma i 

S 9 'fu lij 'f§ ts 40 

'Sis W9Z 'b fti 'n9u 'n^ m S9 'r^st 9 S9 'pl^ 9iz 'Sis iz '3 ikbz 'v^ n, 
9 't9ir9n(t)s 'v^ n 9 ' 1 av 9 iz 'mo x k 9 n'do lin 
Qmnce ‘frse nsis 'flu t 89 'b^l 9 z'mgnd 9 i 

Flute 'e I, ‘pi t9i 'kwins 45 

Qmnce 'flu t, 'ju m9St-'t^ k 'Gizbi on ju 
Flute 'wDts 'Bizbi ^ 9 'wDndr 9 n 'nait ^ 

Qmnce 'its 89 % di Sgt 'pir9m9S m9s(t) 'Iav 

Flute 'n^ , f§( )9, 'l^t not 'mi *pl^ 9 'wum 9 n 9iv 9 'be id 'kAmn so 

il lamentablet ['laemantsbl] or per- 
haps [b’m^ntabl] 

14 assure, [a'/u i] 

27 tears, perhaps [te iz] 

29 storms, possibly [sta imz] 

31 Ercles, perhaps [‘a ikbz] 

33 split, perhaps [sph t] , see p 2ri$ 
SO heard, [bi id] or [ba id] 


Qutnce Saets 'o 1 'wAn ju 'pig t in o 'mae sk, sn ju 'mg 'spg k 
9Z-'smD 1 9Z JU 'wil 

Bottom 9n(d) 91 mg 'oid mi 'fg s, 'Igrni 'pig 'Gizbi 'tu 9il 'spgk 
in 9 'mDnstr9S 'litl 'v9is, 8isn, Sisn, 'a, *pir9m9S, m(9)i '1 av 9 j 'du, 
?S9i 'Gizbi 'di X, 9n(d) 'Ig di 'di x $6 

Qmnce 'no , 'no , *ju mas 'pig 'piramos, an 'flu t, 'ju 'Gizbi 
Bottom 'wgl, pra'si d 

Qmnce 'robin 'sta jvlin tSa 'tg lai 6o 

Starveling '(h)e j, 'pi tai 'kwins 

Qmnce 'robin ‘sta ivlin, 'ju mas 'pig 'Gizbiz ‘mASaj ‘tom ‘snout, 
Ca 'tigkaj 

Snout '(h)8 j, 'pi tai 'kwins 

Qmnce *ju 'piramas 'fg Sai, mi'sglf ‘Gizbiz 'fg tSaj, 'snAg Sa 'd39inajt, 
'ju 8a 'laianz 'pa Jt 9n(d) ai 'op, 'ejz a 'pig 'fitid 
Snug av ju 8a 'laianz ‘pa jt 'ritn^ 'prg ju, ift 'bi , 'giv it mi, far aim 
*slo av 'stAdi 

Qmnce ju mg ‘du t gks'tgmpari, faj tiz 'no 0n bat 'ro nn 70 

Bottom 'Igmi 'pig 8a 'laian 'tu ail 'ro x 8at ail du gni 'msenz 'a Jt 
'gud ta '1 X mi oil 'ro j Sat ail 'mg k 8a *dju k 'sg , 'Igt im 'ro j a'ggn, 
'Igt im ‘ro X a'ggn ^5 

Qmnce if ju Jud 'du t 'tu 'tgribli, ju d 'frait 8a 'dAtJis an 8a 'Ig diz 
Sat 8g d '/raik an 'Sset 'we x I'nAf tu 'seg as 'o I 
All 'Sset (w)ud 'seg as, 'gvri 'mASaiz-'sAn 80 

Bottom ai 'grse nt ja, 'frgn(d)z, if ju Jud 'frait 8a 'Ig diz out a 8aj 
'wits, 8g d av 'no 'mo j dis'krgjn bat-tu 'aeiQ as bat ail 'aeg(a)ravgt 
mi 'vais 'so Sat ail 'ro x ja az 'd3gntli az gni 'sAkn ‘dAv ail 'ro x ja ant 
wai gni ‘ngitnggl 

Qmnce 'ju kan 'pig 'no 'pa jt bat 'piramas far 'piramas iz a 'swi tfg st 

$1 one, more conservatively [o n] 
53 Will, [wul] 

55 thtsne,s^t^ 42 

65 father, ['fa 8aj] or ['fae 834] 

68 give it me, [gi t mi] 

70 nothing, perhaps [no ti;i] 

74 again, [a 'gin] 

76 terribly, perhaps ['ta jbli] or 

[•t3 jbli] 

79 shrike, perhaps [/ri k] 

81 friends, [frin(d)z] 

84 An anaptyctic [a] may well have 
been used in aggravate, as still in 
the Sf dialect 

85 gently, ['dsintli] 



'msen ^ 'propsj ‘maen sz waix J| ‘si in 9 'sAmsjz ‘dg 9 'mo s 'IavIi 
' d3^m9nl9ik 'maen *8e ifo j, 'ju mss 'ni dz 'pl§ 'pir^mss 90 

Bottom 'wel, oil .Andsj't^ kt 'wot ‘be jd w 9 j qi 'bgst t9 'pl^ it in^ 
Qmnce W9i, wot j9 ‘wil 

Bottom 9il dis'tja jd3 it in tSsj joi 'stro kAbjd 'be id, j9i 'Drin(d)3- 
*tD ni 'be id, J9i 'pa ipl-in-*gr§ n 'be id, 9 i J 9 i 'fr^n(t)/-kr 9 un-'kAl 9 i 
*be id, J9I 'pa if it 98 

Quince 'sAm 9v j9i 'fr^n(t) / 'kraunz 9v 'no 'e i at 'd 1 , an '8gn ju 1 
'pl^ 'be if§ St 'bAt, 'mae staiz, 'e j a r jai 'pa its an ai 'aem ta in'trg t 
ja, ri'kw^st ja, an di'zaxi ja ta 'kon am bi ta'mora ‘nait an 'mi t mi m 
8a 'paelis 'wud, a 'mail wiS'aut 8a *taun, bi ‘mu nlait ‘8e i wil wi ri'a is 
fai if WI 'mi t in 8a 'siti, wi J 1 bi 'dogd wi 0 'kAmpm, an a(u)i di'vaisiz 
'no n in 8a 'm^ ntaim ail 'dra a ‘bil a(v) 'propaitiz, 'sAtJ az a(u)i 'pl^ 
'wonts ai 'pr§ ju, 'f^ 1 mi 'not los 

Bottom wi wil 'mi t an '8ei wi m§ ri'ais 'mos(t) ab'sgnli an 
ka'r§ d3asli 't^ k 'p^ nz, 'bi 'pa ifit a'dju 
Quince at 8a 'dju ks 'o k wi 'mi t 
Bottom I'nAf '0 Id, ai 'kAt 'bo strigz 

90 For gemman see p 302 

91 play ti, [pb t] 

95 either f ['1 8ai] or ['oiSai] 
98 yellow f also ['jaela] 

104 rehearse, [ri'(h)e is] or 
[ri'(h )3 is] 

107 such, [s^tj] or [sitj] 
no will, [wul] 

111 obscenely, perhaps with [1 ] 

1 12 perhaps [a'dsu ] or [a'du ] 

A Midsummer Ntghfs Dreamy 2 i 

Oberon ai 'no a 'bseigk, 'hwe i 8a 'waild-'taim 'bio z, 
hwe I 'okslips an 8a 'nodn 'vailat 'gro z, 
kwait 'o vai'kaenapid wi8 'Lv/as 'wudbain, 
wi9 'swi t 'mAsk'ro ziz an wi8 'gglantain 
'8e I 'sli ps tai'tg nj^ 'sAmtaim av 8a 'nait, 

'IaM in 8^ z 'flauiz wi8 'dae nsiz an di'lait 
an ‘8e i 8a ‘sn^ k '9ro z ai I'naemald 'skin, 

'whd 'waid I'nAf ta 'raep a 'fe ri in 

253 Titania, perhaps pronounced [tit’ae nj§ ] or [ti't§ nja] 

254 flowers, possibly [flo iz] 



9n wi8-tS9 *d39is 9v ‘Sis 3il 'str^ k '9iz 

9n ‘mg k 9J ‘ful 9v ‘hg tful 'fsent9S9iz 

'tg k Ssu 'sAm 9v it 9n 'si k 0ru Sis *gro v 

9 'swi t 9'6 i nj9n 'Ig di iz in 'Iav sSo 

wiS 9 dis'dg nful ‘ju 6 9'n9int iz '9iz, 

b9t-‘du it (h)wgn S9 'ngks(t) '6ig hi i'sp9iz 

mgbi So 'Ig di ‘Sou Jolt ‘no So 'msen 

bi Si 9‘0i njon ‘ga jmon(t)s hi o0 ‘on 

I'fgkt it WI0 SAm ‘ke j, Sot 'hi mg ‘pru v 265 

'mo j ‘fond on 'ha i Son ‘Ji o'pon oj ‘Iav 
9n ‘luk Sou 'mi t mi 'e j So ‘fe jst 'kuk ‘kro 

257 jmce, also [dsu s] no doubt , see p 217 

263-4 The rhyme man on may have been read [man] [an] or, perhaps, [mnn] 

264 shalt, perhaps [Jot] 

The Merchant of Venice^ 3 2 73-107 

Bassamo 'so mg Si 'outwojd ‘Jo z bi 'Ig st Som'sglvz, 

So 'w3 jld iz-*stil di'sg vd wiS 'o jnomont 

in 'b , hwat 'pig so 'tg ntid on ko'rApt 7 $ 

bot 'bi in 'sg znd wiS 0 *grg Jos 'vois, 

ob'skju iz So 'Jo ov ‘1 viP in ri‘lid 3 n, 

hwat 'dasmnid ‘groj bot som 'so boj 'brou 

wil ‘bigs it, on(d) o'pru v it wiS 0 'tgkst, 

‘hoidn So ‘gro snis wi0 'fe 1 ‘d jnomont ^ so 

Se J IZ 'no 'vois so 'simpl bot o'sju mz 

SAm ‘ma jk ov-‘va jto on iz 'outwojd ‘pa jts 

‘hou mgni ‘kou(o) jdz, hu z ‘ha Jts oj ‘d 1 oz 'fo Is 

oz-‘ste jz of 'ssend, ‘we j 'jit o'pun Soj ‘tjinz 

So ‘be jdz ov 'hs jkolg z oj ‘frounin ‘ma jz, 8$ 

‘hu , ‘in(w)ojd 's3 jtjt, (h)ov ‘livojz ‘hwoit oz 'milk 

73 outward, perhaps without the [w] 

81 assumes, possibly [o‘Ju mz] false, perhaps [fa s] 

8 s Hercules, ['ha jkal^ z] or ['he jkol§ z] 

86 searched, [sa atft] or [se jtJt] 



3n z 9’sju m bat *vaebjz *^kskramant 
ta 'rgndaj (8) am n*dautid 'luk on 'bju ti, 
an(d) ju /al *si tiz 'ps Jtjast bi 8a ‘w^t, 
hwitj ‘8e rin 'w3 jks a 'mirakl in tai, 

'm^ kn '8§m 'laitist 8at 'we x 'mo st av it 
'so aj '8o z 'krispid 'sn§ ki 'go Idn 'loks 
hwitJ ‘m^ k SAtJ 'wantn 'gaemblz wi8-8a *w(a)ind 
a'pon sa'po zid 'fe inis 'a fn 'no n 
ta bi Sa 'dauri av a 's^kn(d) 'h^( )d, 

8a 'skAl 8at 'br^d (8)am in 8a 's^palkaj 
'8 AS 'd inamant iz bAt 8a 'gailid ‘ Jo j 
tu a 'mo st-'d§ n(d)3ras *s§ , 8a 'bju tjas 'ska jf 
'v^ lin an 'indjan 'bju ti in a 'w3 jd, 

8a 'si mm 'tru 0 hwitj 'kAnin 'taimz put 'on 
tin'traep 8a 'waizist '88 jfo x 8au 'go di 'go Id 
'ha jd 'fu d faj 'maidas, ai wil 'no n av '8i , 
no X 'no n av '8i , 8au 'p§ 1 an 'koman 'drAd 5 , 
twi n 'msen an 'msen, bat '8au, 8au 'mg gaj 'Igd 
hwitj 'rae 8aj 'Grgtmst 8an dAst 'prumis 'd t 
8ai *pg Inis 'mu vz mi 'mo x 8an 'glakwans 
an(d) 'hi x 'tju z 'ai 'd 5 Di bi 8a 'konsakwans 

87 these, [81 z] 

90 miracle, [m^rskl] 

99 Indian, perhaps ['indsan] 

105 rather, [ra baj] threatnest, [’Gr^tijist] 

The Merchant of VemcCy 4 i 184-205 

P ortta 8a 'kwalrti av 'ma isi iz 'nut 'strg nd 
It 'dropiG az 8a 'd3gntl 'rg n fram 'hg( )vn 
a'pon 8a 'pig s bi'ng 9 it iz 'twais 'blgst, 

It 'blgsiG 'him 8at 'givz an(d) 'him 8at-'tgks, 
tiz 'maitist in 8a 'maitist, it bi'kAmz 
8a 'tro nid 'monajk 'bgtaj 8an iz ‘kraun 
hiz-'sgptaj 'Jo z 8a fo js av 'tgmpral 'pauj, 

184 quality, perhaps [‘kwaeliti] 

190 power, also [po x] 



8i 'aetribst tu ‘d 9n((i) 'm3ed33sti, 

hwe j'in dA0 'sit t59 'dr^( )d 9n 'fi j 9v 'ki^z, 

bat 'ma isi iz a'bAv Sis-'sgptrid 'swg , 

It IZ m'tro nid in 89 ‘ha its av *kigz, 

It IS an 'astribat ta 'god (h)im*s^lf 19s 

an(d) '3 j61i 'paui dA0 ‘S^n 'Jo 'laikist 'godz 
hwgn ‘ma isi ‘s^ znz 'd3AStis ‘Se jfo i *d3u , 

So 'd3Astis bi 8ai 'pl^ , kan'sidai ‘Sis, 

Sat in Sa ‘ko is av ‘d 3 AStis, ‘no n av ‘as 

Jud 'si sael'v^ Jn wi du ‘prg fai ‘ma jsi, 300 

an ‘Sset 's^ m ‘pre j dA0 ‘t^ t J as ‘0 1 ta ‘rgndai 
Sa ‘di dz av 'ma jsi ai av 'spo k ‘Sas ‘mAt J 
ta ‘mitigg t Sa ‘d3Astis av Sai ‘pig , 

'hwitj if Sau ‘folo, ‘8is-'strik(t) ‘ko it av-‘vgnis 

mAs(t) 'ni dz grv ‘sgntans ‘gg( )nst Sa ‘ma itjant ‘Se i 205 

192 fear, [fe i] 

193 sceptred, [‘s^ptajd] 

196 earthly, perhaps [‘a i01i] or [*§01i] 

201 teach, also [ti tj], which may actually have been the commoner variant 

As You Like It, 2 7 12-43 

Jaques a 'fu 1, a ‘fu 1 ai *mgt a ‘fu 1 iS ‘forist, 
a 'motli ‘fu 1 — ^a ‘mizarabl ‘w3 ild — 
az ai du 'liv b(a)i ‘fu d, ai 'mgt a ‘fu 1, 

hu 'Ig d im ‘daun an ‘bae skt im in Sa ‘sAn is 

an 'rg Id on ‘Ig di ‘fo itin in ‘gud ‘ta imz, 
in ‘gud ‘sgt ‘ta imz — ^an(d) 'jit a ‘motli 'fu 1 
gud ‘muro ‘fu 1, kwD0 'ai ‘no , S3 1 , kwD0 ‘hi , 

'ko 1 mi 'not 'fu 1 til ‘hg( )vn-a0 sent mi ‘fo itin 

an ‘Sgn i ‘dru a ‘daial fram iz ‘po k, so 

an ‘lukn on it wiS ‘laek'lAStai 'ai, 

*sgz 'vgn ‘waizli, it iz ‘tgn a'kluk 

12 Jaques, pronounced [d3§ ks] and, when disyllabic, [ds^ kiz] , see p 330 When 
the contracted i*th*, cJtK are followed by a word beginmng with a voiceless consonant, 
the article may have been voiceless, thus [i0], [a0] 

18 quoth, also [k 30 ], when unstressed 



'8as W 1 'si , kwD 0 'hi , hau tSa 'w 3 ild 'waegz 
tiz bAt an 'o i a'go sms it waz 'nain, 

an(d) 'se ftaa 'o n 'o a 'mo i twil bi I'l^vn *5 

an 'so fram 'o j tti 'o a wi 'raip an 'raip, 
an '8gn fram 'o a tu 'o a wi 'rot an 'rot, 
an 'be Abai 'haegz a 't? 1 (h)wan ai did 'hi a 
S a 'moth 'fu 1 '8as 'moral on 8a 'taim, 

mi 'lAgz bi'gaen ta 'kro lade 'tjaenti.kli a so 

Sat 'fu Iz /ud bi 'so 'di p kan'tfmplativ, 
an(d) ai did 'las f, 'sasns ,mtaA'mi/ian 
an 'o aA b(a)iiz 'dai(a)l 'o 'nobl'ful, 
a 'w3 aSi 'fu 1 'motliz 8i *o nli 'we a 
Duke hwat 'fu 1 iz '8is ss 

Jaques 'o 'w3 a8i 'fu 1, 'o n 8at a 9 bm a 'ko AtjaA 
an 's?z, if 'Ig diz bi bat 'jAg an 'fe a 
8g (h)aev 8a 'gift ta 'not an(d) in iz 'brgn 
hwit/ IZ az 'drai az 8a ri'mg ndai 'biskit 
'aeftaA a 'vai(i)d3, hi (h)a 0 'strgn(d)3 'plf siz 'kraemd 40 
W18 .obzaA'v^ Jian, 8a (h)witj i 'v^nts 
in 'maeggld 'fa Amz 'o Sat ai 'we a a 'fu 1, 
ai asm aem'bijas faA a 'motli 'ko t 

2S ’hmll, possibly [twul] 

31 -we m contemplative may have been [aiv] 

32 intermission, perhaps with final [sian] , similarly observation in 1 41 

38 have, [(h)e v] know it, perhaps [no it] because of the caesura 

As You Like It, 2 7 139-66 

Jaques ‘0 1 S9 *W3 jldz 9 'st^ d 3 , 

9n(d) ‘d 1 89 ‘m^n 9n 'wimin 'mi jli 'pl§ 9 jz 140 

8$ '(h)? V 89 j ‘eksits 9 n 89 j '^ntr 9 nsiz, 

9 n(d) 'on 'msen in iz 'toim 'pl^ z 'm^ni 'pa Jts, 

(h)iz 'aek(t)s bi n 'sgvn '§ d3iz 9 t 'fa jst 81 'inf 9 nt, 

'mju lin 9n 'pju kn in 89 'ns jsiz 'a imz 

142 owe, perhaps [wah] 

143 For betng [bi n] see p 269 

144 The common colloquial form of nurse may have been [has] , see p 254 



'? 5 gn tS 9 *hw 9 inin *sku Iboi wi 8 iz-'ssetjol 145 

on -inin 'fg s ‘kri pn bik 'sng 1 

AnVilinli to 'sku 1 on ‘tSgn So Iavoj, 

’soion loik 'fa jnos wiS 0 ‘wo ful ‘baelot 

*m^ d txj (h)iz ‘mistris ‘oibrou 'S^n 0 ‘so (l)d30j 

'ful ov 'str§ n(d )3 '0 Sz on 'be jdid loik So 'pa jd, iso 

'd3§Ios in 'onoj, 'sAdn-on 'kwik in 'kwarol, 

'si kn So 'bAbl ,r§po't§ /ion 

'1 n in So 'ksenonz 'mou 0 on *Sgn So 'd3Astis 

in 'fe X roun(d) 'b^Ii wiS 'gud 'k^ pn 'bind, 

wiS 'oiz so've j on 'be xd of-'fo imol 'kAt, iss 

'ful ov 'woiz 'so z on 'modoin 'instonsiz, 

on 'so (h)i 'pl§ z iz 'pa at So 'sikst d3 'Jifts 

intu So ' 1 ^ n on 'slipoid 'psento'lu n, 

wiS 'sp^ktoklz on-'no z on 'pout/ un 'soid, 

(h)iz 'ju 0ful 'ho z 'w^l 's§ vd, o 'ws aid 'tu 'woid 160 

foj iz-'JrAigk ‘Jsegk, on iz 'big 'maenli 'vois 

't 3 jnin o'g§( )n to jd 'tjoildij 'tr^bl 'poips 

on 'hwislz in iz-'soun(d) 'Ise s(t)-'s5 n ov 'o 1 

Sot '§n(d)z Sis-'strg n(d)3 I'v^ntful 'histori 

iz-'s§kon(d) 't/oildijnis on 'mu o'blrvjon, 165 

'saens 'ti 9 , saens 'oiz, saens 'tg st, saens '^vri 0 ig 

148 furnace, ['fa jnis] ballad, [’baebd] 

149 soldier, also [’sodsoj] 

150 bearded, [bi jdid] 

15 1 jealous, perhaps [ds^ljos] 

155 severe, [si'vi j] 

161 voice, perhaps already [vdis] 

Twelfth Night, i i 1-15 

Duke if 'mju zik bi So 'fu d ov 'Iav, 'pl^ 'on, 

'giv mi ik'sgs ov it, Sot 's3 jfotn 
Si 'aepotoit m^ 'sikn on 'so 'doi 
'Saet ‘str^ n o'g^n, it haed 0 'doion 'fo 1 

2 Because of metrical stress, the final syllable of surfeiting may have been pro- 
nounced m full, that IS, [iq] 



'o , It 'kg m 0 I mi 'i x *bik 89 'swi t *s9und 
Sst 'brg 8z 9'pDn 9 'bsegk 9v-'v9i9lits, 

'stg lin 9n 'grvn 'o d^x i*nAf, ‘no 'mo x, 
tiz 'not 'so 'swi t 'nou 9z it waz bi'fo x 
'o 'sproit 9 v 'Iav, h 9 u 'kwik 9n 'frgj a it ' 89 U, 
89t 'notwiB'stsendn 891 ka'paesiti, 
ri'sg V16 9 z 89 'sg 'no t 'gntoiz '88 j, 

9v (h)wat vo'liditi on *pitj so 'e i, 
b9t *fD Iz intu o'bg tmont 9n(d) 'lo 'prois 
'1 n in 9 'minit 'so 'ful 9v *Jg ps iz 'fsensi 
89t 'it o'lo n iz 'hoi fsen'tsestikol 

5 ear may have had [e ] , see pp 208 f 

9 For the variant forms of monosyllabic spmt, see p 213 

Rtchard //, 2 i 40-68 

8is 'roiol 'tro n ov 'kigz, 8is 'sgptrid 'oil, 

8 is '3 10 9 v 'maed 39 sti, 8 is-'sg t ov 'ma iz, 

8 is 'a8oi 'g dn, 'dgmi'pserodois, 

81S 'fo Jtris 'bilt boi 'ngtoj foi (h)9j'sglf 
o'gg( )nst in'fgkjn aend-80 'haend ov 'wa i, 

81S 'hsepi 'bn d ov 'mgn, 8is 'litl 'w3 ild, 

81S 'prgjos-'sto n 'sgt in 80 'silvoj 'sg , 

hwitj 'sa ivz It in 81 'ofis ov 9 'wd 1 

ox sez 0 'mo t di'fgnsrv tu o 'hous, 

o'gg( )nst-8i 'gnvi ov 'Igs 'hsepii 'lsen(d)z 

8 is 'blgsid 'plot, 8 is '3 j 0 , 81S 'rg (l)m, 8is 'igglond, 

8is 'n 3 js, 8is 'ti min *wu m ov 'roiol 'kigz, 

'fi id boi 891 'bn d on(d) 'fg mos foi 801 'bs i9, 
ri'noonid foi 801 'di dz oz 'fa i from 'ho m, 

40 sceptred, [’s§pt9jd] 

41 earth may have been [a a0] or [§6] , see p 252 

42 Eden, [1 dv] , Hodges (1644) had ] 

49 Monosyllabic -^er may have been [j9j] , see p 288 

51 For nurse see p 254 

52 feai^d, [fe jd] 



foj[ 'kristjon 'saavis send-'tru ‘J^vslri, 

3ez iz 's^polkaj in ‘stAbsjn 'd3U ri ss 

9 v t 59 'w 3 jldz 'raens^m, 'bl^sid 'me riz-'sAn 

tis 'Isend 9v SAtJ 'di jl 'so Iz, Sis 'di j, ‘di j 'laend 

'di j iox oj Jn ‘6ru So 'w3 jld, 

iz 'nou ‘Ig St 'out, 01 'doi pro'nounsin it, 

'loik tu 0 't^nomont oj 'pgltn 'fa jm 6 o 

'igglond, 'bound ‘in wiS-So troi'Amfont 's^ , 
hu z 'roki 'Jo i 'b^ ts 'bask Si '^nvjos 'si d 5 
ov 'wD tri 'n^ptju n, iz 'nou 'bound 'in wi0 '/^ m, 
wiS 'igki 'blots on(d) 'roton 'pa jtjmont 'bon(d)z 
‘Saet 'igglond Saet woz 'wAnt-to 'ko;)koi 'aSojz 6$ 

(h)o0 'm^ d 0 mful 'kogkwgst ov it’s^lf 
'a , 'wud So 'skaendol 'vaenij wiS mi 'loif, 
hou 'haepi 'S^n we j ‘moi in'Juin 'd^( )0 
54 Chnsttan, ['krist(j)on] chimlry,also ['t/ivolri] 

Henry F, 2 3 1-47 

Hostess 'priSi, 'aui'swi t 'Azbon, 'I§mi 'brig Si to 'st§ nz 

Pistol 'no , foj mi 'maenl(o)i 'a jt dA 0 '3 jn 

'bajdol(f) bi 'bloiS 'nim, 'rouz Soi 'vo ntn 'v^ nz, 

‘boi, 'brisl Soi 'kArid3 'Ap, foj 'fo Istae f (h)i iz 'd^( )d, s 

on(d) wi mAst '3 jn Se j'fo j 

Bardolph 'wud 01 we j 'wiS im, 'we jsom'e j 1 iz, Soj in '^( )vn oi 
in '^I 

Hostess *n^ , ‘Jo j, hiz 'not in '^1 hiz m 'a jtojz ‘buzom, if 'ivoj 'maen 
w^nt-tu 'a jtojz buzom 0 m^ d 0 'foinoj 'ind, on w^nt o'w^ ont od bin 
^ni 'kris(t)om(d) 't/oil(d) 0 'pa jtid *in *d3^s(t) (bi)'twin 'tw^lv on 

3 ern, for which see p 309, may have been pronounced [a jn] 

4 Bardolph, spelled Bardol 1H4 24329, seems to have been pronounced without 
the /For the vowel m vaunting see p 184 

6 must, perhaps [mas] 

8 either was probably [1 Saj] or [aiCaj] in the speech of many Londoners 

9 hee*s, perhaps [1 z] 

10 sure, also [fu j] or [Juaj] ever, also [§vaj] 

11 end, perhaps [1 nd], if not [^nd] 


'wAii, '1 n ot tS9 *t 3 jn^n 98 'tsid for 'se (f)toi 01 'so om 'fAm(b)l W18-80 
'Ji ts, on 'pl^ wi 9 'flouojz, on 'smoil opon (i)z 'figgojz 'in(d)2, 01 'nju 
boj woz bAt 'wAn 'w§ foj (i) 2 'no z woz oz-'/a jp oz o 'p^n, on 0 'b»b}(d) 
0 'gn n 'fil(d)z 'ou nou, soj 'd3Dn, ko6 'oi, 'wot, 'maen, bi 0 'gud 'tjioj so 

0 'kroid 'out, 'god, 'god, 'god, ' 0 ri oj 'fo j 'toimz 'nou '01, to 'kAmfot im, 
'bid im o /udn(t) ' 0 igk 0 'god 01 *0 pt 8oj woz 'no 'm d to 'IrAbl 
wi(8) gni 'sitj '0D ts 'jit so 0 *baed mi 'Ig 'mo 1 'klo z onz 'fi t 01 'put mi 
'aen(d) into So 'b^d on 'f^lt om, on S§ we 1 oz 'ko 1 (d) z ^ni 'sto n *8^n 

01 'f^lt tuz 'm z, on so 'Ap(w)oj[d on 'Ap(w)oj[d, on '0 1 woz oz 'ko 1 (d) 2 
§ni 'sto n 

Nym 'sg , 0 'kroid 'out 0 *ssek 

Hostess '01, 'Saet 0 'did 30 

Bardolph ono(v) 'wimin 
Hostess 'n^ , 'Sset 0 did 'nut 
Boy 'jis, 'Sset 0 'did, on 's^d Sg woi *div}z in'ka jnit 
Hostess o kud 'nivoi o'boid ka j'n§ Jn, twoz 0 'kAloj o 'nivoj 'loikt 
Boy 0 's^d 'wAns So ‘divl (w)ud 'sev im o'bout 'wimin 
Hostess 0 'did in 'sAm 'so jt, in'di d, 'send} 'wimin bot 'S^n 0 woz 
'ru motik, on 'to kt 0 Si *0 i 0 'baebilon 40 

Boy 'do nt jo ri'm^mboj, 0 'so 0 'fl^ 'stik opon 'ba jdolz 'no z, on 0 
's§d, twoz 0 'blsek 'so 1 'bs jnon in '^I'foioj ^ 

Bardolph 'w^l, So 'fjuolz 'gun Sot m^( )n‘tgnd 'Sset 'foioi 'Ssets 
'o 1 So 'ritjiz 'oi got in iz-'sa jvis 47 

12 ¥qv Christ ome 302 just^ [dsAsft)] 

13 one, still commonly [o n], already had the colloquial variant [wAn] 

14 0 th\ perhaps [o0] because of the following t m tide after, perhaps [a taj] 

17 Theobald’s convincing emendation a hobbled for a Table has been used here 

18 fields, [fi Idz] 

23 such, [sAtJ] or [s?tj] 

37 have, [(h)§ v] 

40 rumatique, a malapropism for lunatic, appears to have had initial stress, cf 
rheumatic VA 135 
45 gone, [go n] 

42 For doWt the text has doe you not , but see p 280 
47 in his, [inz] 



ConolanuSf 5 3 131-82 

Volumma 'n^ , 'go 'not from os 'JSas 

if It we j 'so , tSot ouj-ri'kwgst did 't^nd 
to 's^ V 'ro monz, 'Se jboi to di'stroi 

80 'vdIsiz 'hu m ju 'sa jv, ju 'moit kon'd^m os 

oz 'poiznos ov JU j 'onoj 'no , ouj ‘Ju t 13s 

iz 8ot JU 'rgkonsoil 80m, 'hwoil 80 ‘vdIsiz 

's^ , 81S 'ma jsi ‘wi ov 'Jo d 80 'ro monz 
'8is wi ri's^ vd, on(d) tj in 80J 'soid 
'giv 81 'o I'h^ 1 to '81 , on(d) 'kroi, bi 'bl^st 
foj 'm^ kn 'ap 8 is 'p^ s 8 ou 'no st, gr^ t 'sah, ho 

81 '^nd ov 'wa iz An'sa jtn 'bAt '8is 'sa itn, 

8ot if 80U 'ko^koj 'ru m, 80 'b^nofit 

hwitj 80U Jolt '8e iboi 'r^ p, iz-'sAtJ 0 'n§ m 

hu z ,r§pi*tijn wil bi 'dogd wi0 'ks jsiz, 

hu z 'kronikl '8 as 'nt, 80 'maen woz 'no bl, hs 

bot W18 iz 'lae st o't^mt hi 'woipt it 'out, 

di'stroid IZ 'kAntn, on(d) iz 'n^ m ri'm^ nz 

tu 8in' Ju on d3 ob'ho jd 'sp^ k tu mi, 'sah, 

80U haest o'f^ktid 80 'foin 'str^ nz ov 'onoj, 

tu 'imit^ t 80 'gr^ siz ov 80 'godz iso 

to 'te j wi 0 -' 0 Andojc 80 'woid 'tji ks o8-'8 1 

on(d) 'jit to 'tja jd3 801 'sAlfoj wi8 0 'bo It 

8ot Jud bot 'roiv on 'o k 'hwoi dAst not 'sp§ k^ 

' 0 igkst 80U it 'onrobl foi o 'no blmon 

'stil to ri'm^mboj 'rogz^ 'do toj, 'sp^ k 'ju 15s 

hi 'ke JLZ not foj joj 'wi pn 'sp^ k '8ou, 'boi, 

132 were, [woi] if unstressed 
138 each, [§t/], perhaps [i t/] 

143 shalt, [Jaet] or [Jot] 

144 zmll, [wul] curses, possibly [’kAsiz] 

148 Stnct adherence to the meter would require thhnsmng to be read [‘8inju n], 
a possible vanant 
155 wrongs, perhaps [rAqz] 



p 9 j'(h) 3 eps *t/ 9 ildijnis wil 'mu v im 'mo i 

8911 *kaen 9UJ-'r^ znz Se jz 'no 'masn in 89 'w 3 jld 

'mo 2 'b9und-tuz 'mASoj, 'jit 'hi j i 'l^ts mi 'prg t 

l9ik 'o n 18 'stoks 89u hsest 'ne j in 891 'bif 160 

'/o d 891 'di j 'mA89j ^ni 'ks jtisi, 

hw^n 'Ji , 'pu I 'h^n, 'fond 9 v 'no 's?kn(d) 'bru d 

h 9 z 'klAkt 81 t 9 89 'wa iz, 9 n(d) 's§ fli 'ho m 

'lo dn W18 'Dn 9 J 's§ m 9 i ri'kw^sts An'd3Ast, 

9 n(d) 'sp 3 jn mi 'baek b 9 t if it bi 'not 'so , 165 

89 u a jt not 'onist, 9 n(d) 89 'godz wil 'pl^ g 81 
89 t 89 u ri'str^ nst fr 9 m-mi 89 'dju ti (h)witj 
tu 9 'mA 89 jz 'pa it bi'logz hi 't 3 inz 9'w^ 

*d 9 un, ‘ 1 ^ diz, 'l^t 9 s m im wi 8 9 UJ ‘ni z 

tuz 'S3 jn^ m ,kDrj9'l§ n 9 s 'logz 'mo i 'pr 9 id 170 

89 n 'piti tu 9 UJ 'pre 9iz 'doun, 9 n *§nd 

'81S iz 89 'lae St 'so wi wil 'ho m t 9 'ru m, 

9 nd-'d 9 i 9'mAg 9 UJ 'n§ b9jz 'n§ , bi'ho Ids, 

8is 'boi 89t 'kaenot 't§l (h)wat hi wud 'hgv, 

b 9 t 'ni Iz, 9 n(d) 'ho Idz Ap 'ha 5 n(d)z f9J ‘f^lojip, 17s 

dAz 'r^ zn 9 uj pi'ti/n wi 8 'mo j 'strggG 

89 n 89 u hsest t 9 di'noit 'kAm, 'l^t 9 s 'go 

81S 'f^Io hsed 9 'vDlj9n tu iz 'mA 89 J 

hiz 'w 9 if IZ in k9'r9i(9)l9S 9 n(d) iz 'tj 9 ild 

'l9ik him boi 'tjaens 'jit 'giv 9 s 9 ui dis'psetf iSo 

9 im 'hA/t An'til 9 UI *siti bi 9 'f 9 ij, 

9 n(d) ' 8 ?n 91I *sp§k 9 'litl 

1 57 willf [wul] 

158 tn thCf perhaps rather [18] 

159 heret also [he j] 

160 t'W, perhaps [i0] here 

176 strength, perhaps [str^nG] 

Juhus Caesar, 3 2 79-113 

Antony 'frfn(d)z, 'ro manz, 'kAntriinan, 'lfndmiju( )a '1 iz 
31 'kAiti tu 'b§n 'sg Z3J, 'not-tu 'pr? z (h)im 

79 yoitr, [jo( )j] ears, [e az] 




81 *1 vil Sst 'm^n 'du 'livz ‘se ftsi 8^m, 

89 ‘gud 12 ‘d ft in't 3 rid wi 8 - 83 j ‘bo nz 
'so l^t It 'bi WI 0 'sg Z 3 J 89 'no bl 'bru tss 
(h )90 'to Id ju 's^ Z9J W9Z aem'biji9s, 

if It 'we J 'so , It waz 9 'gri V 9 s 'fD (l)t, ss 

9 n(d) 'gri V 9 sli (h )90 's§ Z 9 J 'ae ns 9 id it 

'hi J, And 9 j 'Igv 9 V 'bnit9S 9 n(d) 89 ‘r^st — 

f 9 J 'bru t 9 S iz 9 n 'Dn 9 r 9 bl 'masn — 

so a( )i 8g 'ol, 'd 1 'Dn9r9b} 'm^n — 

'kAm 91 tu 'sp^ k in 's^ Z 9 JZ 'fju n 9 r 9 l 90 

hi waz m9i 'fr^nd, 'f^ 9 ful 9n(d)-'d3Ast tu 'mi , 
b 9 t 'bru t 9 s 's^z hi waz aem'biji 9 s, 

9 n(d) 'bru t 9 S iz gn 'Dn 9 r 9 bl 'maen 

hi haeO 'bro t 'm§ni 'kaeptivz ‘ho m t 9 'ru m, 

hu 2 'raens9mz did 89 'd3§nr9l 'kofoiz 'fil 95 

did '8is in 's§ Z9i 'si m aem'bijigs^ 

hw^n 8aet 89 'pu j (h)9v 'kr9id, *s^ Z9j (h)99 'w^pt 

aem'bijn /u( )d bi 'm§ d 9 v 'sta inoj 'stAf, 

‘jit ‘bru t 9 s 'sgz hi waz aem‘biji 9 s, 

9 n(d) 'bru t 9 S iz 9 n 'Dn9r9bl 'maen 100 

JU 'o 1 did 'si 89t on 89 'lu pgjkael 
91 ' 0 r 9 is pri'z^ntid him 9 ‘kigli 'kr 9 un, 
hwitj hi did '0r9is ri'fju z waz '8is aem'bi/n? 

'jit 'bru t 9 s 's^z hi waz aem'bi/ras, 

9 n(d) ‘/u J 'hi IZ 9 n 'Dn9r9bl 'maen 105 

91 'sp^ k 'not tu dis'pru v (h)wat 'bru t 9 S 'spo k, 

81 perhaps [a ftaj] 

82 oftf perhaps [nft] The weak form of thar was probably [tSaj] , cf Milton’s 
spelling thtr 

84 For the pronunaation of words like ambtttous see p 293 

85 waSf perhaps already [wdz], if stressed 
87 here, [he j] 

91 friend, perhaps [frind] 

92 For says see p 177 

94 captives may have ended in [oivz] 

97 poor, perhaps [po j] 

98 should may have retained its I m very formal delivery, see p 311 sterner, per- 
haps ['st3 jn9j] 


bat 'hi j 31 'aem, tu 'spf k (h)wat 3i 'du 'no 
ju 'd 1 did 'Iav (h)mi 'wAns, 'not wib'sut 'ko z 
'hwat 'ko z wib'(h)o Idz ju 'Sgn tu 'mo jn faj him’ 
'o 'd3Ad3m3nt, 8au a it 'flgd tu 'bru tij 'bg sts, 
an(d) 'm?n (h)3v 'b st t5e i-'r? zn 'be i wiS mi , 
mai 'ha it iz in tSa 'kofm tSe i wi0 'sf zai, 
an(d) 31 mAs(t) 'pa z til it 'kAm 'bsek tu nu 

107 For kn m know see p 304 

Macbeth^ i 7 1-28 

if It ’w8 1 *dAn, hw^n 'tiz *dAn, '8§n twe j ‘wgl, 

It w€ 1 ‘dAn 'kwikli if tS3,ssesi'n^ Jn 
kud ‘trsemal Ap ‘knns^kwsns, 3n(d) 'ksetj 
wi?5 IZ S3 j's$ s s^k’sgs tSst bAt tSis 'bio 
m^it bi So 'bi *D 1 on(d) Si 'gnd 'd 1 hu 
bot ‘hi J, o‘pDn Sis ‘baegk on ‘Jo 1 ov 'toim, 
wi d 'd 3 Amp So 'loif to ‘kAm bot in S^ z 'k? siz, 
wi ‘stil ov 'd 3 Ad 3 mont hi j, Sot wi bot 'ti tj 
'blAdi in'strAkJnz, hwitj bi n 'to t, ri'ts m 
to 'pl^ g Sin'v^ntojL Sis '1 vi;i'h8endid 'd 3 AStis 
ko’m§n(d)z Sin'gn djons ov ouj ‘poiznd 'tjselis 
tu OUJ 'o n 'lips hiz 'hi 1 m 'dAbI 'trASt, 

'fs jst, oz 01 om IZ 'kinzmon, on(d) iz-'sAbd 3 ikt, 
'strog 'bo 9 o'gg( )nst So 'di d 'Sgn oz iz '(h)o st, 
'hu Jud o*g^( )nst iz ‘ms jSroj 'jAt So 'do j, 

‘not ‘be J So ‘noif mi's^lf bi'soidz, Sis 'dAgkon 

(h)o9 'bojn iz 'faekoltiz so 'mik, (h)o9 bin 

so^ 'kli J in IZ 'gr§ t 'ofis Sot iz 'va Jtoz 

wil *pl? d loik '^nd^olz, ‘trAmpot-'tAgd, o'gg( )nst 

So 'di p doem'n^ Jn ov iz 't^ kn 'o f 

on ‘piti, loik 0 ‘n^ kid ‘nju bo jn 'b^ b, 

‘stroidn So 'blae st, oj 'he( )vnz 'tjgrobin, ‘ho Jst 

5 here, perhaps [he j] 
7 these, [Si z] 

8 teach, [t§ t/] 

15 murtherer, ['ms jdroj] 



Spun ?53 'smiths 'kArj9iz 9v Si *e x, 

J 9 I 'bio S 9 'bond 'di d in *§vri * 91 , 

Sst 'ti jz 'dr9un S 9 'wind si (h)^ v no 'sps 1 »s 

t9 'prik 's9idz 9v msi in'tgnt, bat '0 nli 
'vD (l)tn sem'bijn hwitj 0 ps 
9n 'fo Iz on ‘8 a89J 

23 curnors, less likely [‘kurjDjz] 27 -leapes, also [l?ps], possibly [li ps] 

Hamlet, 3 i 56-90 

Hamlet t 9 'bi , 9 j 'not-ta 'bi , 'Sset iz 89 ‘kwgst/n, 

'hw^Sai tiz 'no blaj in 89 'maind ta 'sAfai 
89 'sligz 9 n(d) 'seroz av aut'r^ d 39 S 'fo itin, 

D j ta 'tg k 'a imz a'g^( )nst a 's^ av 'trAblz 

an bai a'po zn '^nd (8) am ta *dai, ta 'sli p, 60 

no 'mo I, an bai a 'sli p ta 'sg wi '^nd 

8 a 'ha jt§k an 8 a 6 auzn(d) 'naetral '/oks 

8 at 'fl^J IZ 'e j tu , 'tiz a .konsa'm^ /n 

di'vautli ta bi 'wi/t ta 'dai, ta *sli p, 

ta *sh p, paj'tjae ns ta 'drg m, *ai *80 iz 8a 'rAb 6s 

fD( ) j in 8 set 'sh p av 'd§( ) 9 , (h)wat 'dr^ mz 'kAm 
hw^n wi (h)av '/Afld 'd f 8 is 'mo ital 'kail, 

'mAs(t) giv as *po z '80 iz 8a ri'spgkt 
8at 'm§ ks ka'Isemiti av 'so 'log 'laif 

faj 'hu wud 'be i 8 a 'hwips an 'ska inz av 'taim, 70 

8 a'pr^saj[z 'rug, 8 a 'praud 'maenz 'kontjumli, 

8a 'paegz av 'dispraizd 'Iav, 8a 'lo z di'lg , 

81 'insalans av 'ofis, an 8a 'sps jnz 

8 at 'p§ Jant 'mgrit av 8-An'w3 j 8 i 't^ ks 

hw^n 'hi him's^lf mait (h)iz kwai'i tas 'm^ k 7s 

wiS a 'be 1 'bodkin ^ 'hu wud 'fa idlz 'be j, 

ta 'grAnt an 'sw 5 ( )t Andai a 'w§ ri 'laif, 

65 dream, perhaps [dn m] 

67 shuffeVd (F), shuffled (Q2), the latter perhaps meant to be read [‘jAflid] 

72 dtspn^d (F), despxid (Q2), here [’dispaizd] 

77 weary, also ['wi ri] 



b 9 t 89 t ?59 'dr^( )d 9v *sAm0ig ’se ftsj 

8 i 'Andis'kAV9jd 'kAntri, from hu z 'bo jn 

'no 'traev9l9J ri'ts jnz, 'pAzlz 89 'wil 80 

9n(d) ‘m^ ks 9S ‘rse 891 'be j 80 z 'ik wi 'hg v 

89n '091 tu 'a89jz 89t wi 'no 'not dv 

8 AS 'kDn/9ns dAz *mg k 'k9U9jdz 9v as 'o 1, 

9n '8as 89 'ng tiv 'hju 9v ,rgz9'l(j)u Jn 

iz-'siklid 'o i W18-89 'pg 1 'kae st 9 v ' 0 d t, 8s 

9 n(d) 'gnt 9 j[pr 9 iziz 9 v 'grg t 'pi 0 9n 'mo m 9 nt, 

wi8-'8is r 9 'ga id 891 'kAr9n(t)s 'ts in 9'wg 

9 n 'lu z 89 'ng m 9 v 'aekjn 'so ft ju 'nou, 

89 'fe I o'0 Ijg 'nimf, in 891 'oriznz 

bi '0 1 mi 'sinz ri'mgmboid 90 

78 something, ['sAm 0 n] after, perhaps ['a ftsj] 

81 rather, perhaps with [a ] have, [hsev] 

83 cowards, possibly [‘ko sjdz] 

84 native, perhaps [‘n^ taiv] 

86 pith (F), Pitch (Q2), [pit/] enterprises, perhaps with [‘intw-] 

87 away (F), awry (Q2), [o'rai] 

90 remembred (F, Q2), [ri'm^mbrid] 

Hamlet, 3 2 1-50 

Hamlet 'spg k 89 'spi tj, 91 'prg ju, 9z '91 pr9'n9xmst it tu ju, 'tripnli 
on 89 'tAg bot if JU 'm 9 u 8 it, 92 'mgni 9 v j 9 i 'pig 9 jz *du , 9id 9 z 'll v 
89 't 9 un'kr 9 i 9 i 'spo k mi 'binz 'no i du not 'so 81 'e i 'tu 'mAtJ wi8 j9i 
'hsend, '8as, bot 'ju z *0 1 'd5gntli, foi in 89 'vgri 'toront, 'tgmpist, aend, 
9 z 91 'mg 'sg , 89 'hw 3 ilwind 9 v j 9 i 'paejn, ju mASt o'kwoioi on bi'git 
9 'tgmprons 89 t mg 'giv it 'smu 8 nis '0 , it 9 'fgn(d)z mi to 89 'so 1 tu 
'(h) II 0 ro'bAst/os 'pgriwig'pg tid 'fglo 'tei 9 'paejn to 'taetoiz, to 
'vgri 'raegz, t 9 'split 81 'e iz 9 (v) 89 'gr 9 un(d)lmz, 'hu foi 89 'mo s(t) 

2 tongue, perhaps [tug] 

3 your (F), our (Q2), [auj], [oi] 

4 live (F, Q2) , also [liv] 

6 gently, perhaps [*d3intli] 

8 give It, perhaps [gi t] 

10 tatters (F), totters (Q2), perhaps ['tataiz] 

11 split (¥),spleef (Q2), [sph t] ears, [i iz] 



'pa it or 'k^ pobl ov 'no 0 n bot in'^ksplikobl 'dAm 'Jo z on-'noiz oi kud 
9V ‘sAtJ 0 'f^lo 'hwipt foj ,0 j'duon 'tajmogont it 'out'h^rodz 'h^rod 
'prg ju, o'void It 16 

Player oi 'waront joj 'onoj 

Hamlet bi 'not 'tu ‘t^m ‘ngtSoj, bot l^t joj 'on dis'kr^Jn bi pi 
'tjutoj 'Jut 81 'sekjn to t5o 'wsjd, So 'w3 jd to Si 'sekjn, wiS-'Sis- 
'sp^Jl ob'za jvons Sot ju ,0 j'st^p 'not So 'modosti ov 'n^ toi foi ‘?ni0ig 
'so ,ovoj['dAn iz 'from So 'p3 jpos ov *plgon, hu( )z *gnd, 'bo 0 ot So 
'f3 jst on-'Hou, 'waz on(d) 'iz, tu '(h)old ost'wei, So 'miroi Ap to 
'n^toj to 'Jo 'vajto (h)oj 'on 'f^toj, 'sko jn oi 'on 'imid3, on So 
'v^ri d3 on 'bodi o(v) So 'toim iz 'fo jm on 'prgsoj 'non Sis ,0 voi'dAn, 
oj 'kAm 'ta jdi 'd f, So (i)t 'm^ k S(i) *An'skilful 'Ise f, 'ksenot bot 'm^ k 
So d3u'diJos *gri v. So 's^nsoj ov So hwitj ‘o n 'niASt, in juj o'lou(o)ns, 
,oj['w§ 0 'hoi '01 ( )otoj ov 'aSojz 'o , Sej 'bi 'pl^ojz Sot oiv 'sin 
'pl^ , on 'ha jd 'aSojz 'pr^ z, on 'Sset 'hoili, not-to 'sp§ k (i)t pro'f^ nli, 
'Saet 'n^ Soj (h)aevn Si 'aeksont ov 'kristjonz, 'no 1 So 'gg t ov 'kristjon, 
'p^gon, no j ‘msen, (h)ov 'so 'strAtid on 'bglod Sot oiv '0ot 'sahi ov 
'n^ tojz 'd33 jnimon od 'mg d 'mgn, on-'not 'mg d m 'wgl, Sg 'imitg tid 
hju'mseniti so( ) o'bDminobli 40 

Player 01 'ho p wi v ri'fo jmd 'Saet in'difrontli wiS 'as, S 3 ( ) j 

Hamlet '0 , ri'fo jm it '0 Ito'giSoj on 'Igt 'So z Sot 'pig joj 'klounz 
'spgk no 'moj Son (i)z-'sgt 'doun foj (S)om foi Soj 'bi ov 'Sgm 
Sot 1 Som'sglvz 'laef to 'sgt 'on som 'kwantiti o(v) 'baeron spgk'tg tojz 
to 'laef 'tu, So in So 'mgn'toim som *ngsos(o)ri 'kwgstjn o(v) So 
'pig bi 'Sgn to bi kon'sidojd 'Saets 'vilonos, on 'Jo z 0 mos(t) 'pitiful 
agm'bijn in So 'fu 1 Sot 'ju ziz it 'go , 'mg k ju 'rgdi so 

IS -doing f [du n] 

17 avoid j [o'vDid] 

18 warrant, probably contracted to [wajn(t)], [wDjn(t)] 

19 neither, also ['n^Soj], [ni Soj], perhaps even ['noiSoj] 

24 ore-doone (Qs), [^o j'dAn] playing, [pl^ n] end, perhaps [ind] 

26 mirror, perhaps ['m§roj] shew, also [Ju ] 

29 perhaps ['prfsjoj], I'prg/oj] 

30 cannot, perhaps [kse nt] 

31 one, possibly [wAn] theater was colloquially pronounced [ 0 i'g toj] 

36 having, ?lsQ [h§ vv], [h§ n] tW accent (Q2), ['Saeksont] 



Antony and Cleopatra, 2 2 195-223 

Enobarbus 3i wil ‘t^l ju 
t5o 'ba jd3 Ji 'sset in, bik o ‘bs jnijt 'tro n 
'b3 jnt on t5o 'wo toj 'pu p woz 'b^ tn 'go Id, 

'p3 jp} 's^ Iz, on(d) 'so pai'fju mid Sset 
Sd 'w(9)in(d)z W9J 'Uvsik wiS-Som t 5 i '0 iz woi 'silvsj, 
hwit/ tu tS9 'tju n of-'flu ts k?pt 'stro k, 9n(d) 'm^ d 200 

t 59 'wD t 9 i (h)wit/ tS§ 'bg t, t 9 'fob 'fse st 9 j, 

92 'semros 9 v t 59 J 'stro ks fo j 91 '0 n 'pa jsn, 

It 'bgg9j[d 'ol di'skripjn /i did 'bi 
in 91 p9'vilj9n, 'kb 0 9 v 'go Id 9 f 'tiju, 

'o j'piktorin 8 set 'v^ nos (h)we x wi 'si 20 s 

89 'faensi 'outwa ik 'n§ toj on tj 's9id (h)9J 
'stud 'priti 'dimpid 'boiz bik 'smoilin 'kju pidz, 

W 18 'doivojz 'kAbid 'fsenz, hu z 'w(9)ind did 'si m 
t 9 'glo 89 'dgl(i)k9t 't/i ks (h)witj 8 ^ did 'ku I, 

9 nd 'hwat 8^ 'An'did 'did 
Agnppa '0 , 're j foj 'sentoni 
Enobarbus hoj 'd3^ntlwimin bik 89 'ni riidz, 
so 'm^ni 'ma jm§ dz, 't^ndid hoi i 8 - 9 iz 
9 n(d) 'm§ d 89 i 'bgn(d)z 9'do jninz aet 89 'h^lm 
9 'si mn 'ma jm^ d 'sti iz So 'silkn 'taekl, 

'sw§l wiS-So 'tAtJiz 9 v '80 z 'flouj’sD ft 'haen(d)z. 

Sat 'je jIi 'fr^ m 81 'ofis from So 'ba jd3 
^ 'strg n(d)3 in'vizabl 'pa jfju m 'hits 80 'sgns 
9v Si 9'd3§ S9nt 'hwa jfs So 'siti 'kae st 
(h) 9 i 'pi pi out o'pon 9 j 9 n(d) 'aentoni 
in'tro nd 18 'ma jkitpl? s did *sit o'lo n, 

'hwislin tu '8e j, (h)wit/ bAt foj 'v^ konsi 
(h)od 'go n to 'g§ z on klio'p^ tro 'tu 
9 n(d) 'm^ d o 'gaep in 'n? toj 

19s twul] 

202 person^ [’p 3 asij] 

205 Venust perhaps [‘vi nos] 

206 each, [etj], perhaps [i tJ] 

222 Cleopatra, perhaps [klio*paetro], or with final [§ ] 






The appended lists, which do not claim to be exhaustive, contain all the 
significant cases of syncopation in Shakespeare In addition they include 
a good many examples of synizesis like filial, senous The words have been 
grouped according to terminals, e g , the words in -d, -id, -ud fomung 
one group, those in -ance, -ence, -ency another , the last group contams 
examples which could not conveniently be so classified 

For practical reasons modern spelling has been used in these lists, 
except when syncope is clearly shown by the Shakespearean spelling The 
latter will always be given first whenever there are also cases of non- 
phonetic spellings , see, e g , such entries as card’ndl, gen’rdl 


2 Syllables 

annud H 2 2 73, H8 2 3 69, LLL 5 2 808, P 5 pr 17, T i 2 1 13 
bestid H 4 4 40, R3 3 5 81 

burtd 1H6 2 5 121, 4 7 86, M I 2 60, MV i i 29, R2 5 5 119, R3 i 5 288, 
RJ 4 5 87, TA I I 347, 5 3 192 

capital C 3 3 81, 2H4 4 2 109, H5 2 2 56, 2H6 5 I 107, L 5 3 83, R2 4 1 151, 
TNK I I 123 

card’ndl 2H6 3 3 27, H8 32 285, cardndl H8 2 i 48, 2 2 97, 2 4 166, 
cardind(s) 1H6 i 3 26, 49, 2H6 1 2 loi, i 3 113, 2 i 23, 3 2 369, H8 
I I 105, I 2 185, 2 I 48, 2 2 20 ( 2 x), 74, 2 4 236, 3 I 103, 104, 322, 
30, 32, 4 2 6, J 3 4 76, s I 74, R3 3 I 32 
cordud Cy I 5 64, 5 5 247, H8 3 i 106, R3 2 i 41, RJ 5 i 85, TA i i 166, 
WT I 2 318 

filial H I 2 91, L 3 4 14, etc 

funerd H i 2 12, 3H6 2 5 117, JC 3 i 245, TA i i 176, 5 3 196 
gen’rdl TmA 4 3 445, general AC i 2 109, AW i 3 230, AYL 2 7 69, 
Cy 3 7 II, H I 4 35, 1H4 3 2 178, 2H4 4 I 136, Hs 4 I 256, etc 
hberd AC 2 6 48, H 4 7 172, 1H4 5 2 2, H5 4pr 44, O 3 4 38, T i 2 73, 




manml R2 4 1 25, VA 516 
mineral Cy 5 5 50, O 2 i 306 
mutual AC 1 1 37, 1H4 i 1 14, 2H6 i i 25, L 3 i 21, MM i 2 158, MND 
4 I 120, MV 5 I 77, R3 2 2 113, S 8 10, 125 12, VA 1018, etc 
natural AYL i 2 287, CE 5 i 333, H i 5 51, 67, M 3 4 115, T 5 i 157, etc 
nuptial C I 6 31, MA 4 i 69, RJ i 5 37, TA 2 3 125, WT 4 4 50, etc 
pastorals WT 4 4 1 34 

personal H i 2 36, JC i 3 77, LC 130, LLL 2 i 32 , 0 i 1 9, etc 
prodigal LLL $ 2 64, MV 2 5 15, R2 3 4 31, TmA 2 2 174, 3 4 12 
sensual AYL 2 7 66, MM 2 4 160, S 35 9, 141 8 

sev’rall MWW 5 5 65, several Cy i 5 23, 2H4 i 3 76, J i 1 13, JC i 2 320, 
321, L I 145, LC 206, 216, MND 5 I 424, RL 1410, S 1379, VA 
1067, etc 

spiritual 1H6 3 I 50, H8 2 4 117, 3 2 132, 140, WT 2 1 186 
temporal Cy 5 4 12, H5 i i 9, MV 4 1 190, T i 2 1 10 
usual 3H6 4 s II, H8 I 2 132, MND 5 i 35, MV 4 1 72, TS 3 1 12, H 
2 1 22 

3 Syllables 
commutual H 3 2 170 

celestial MND 3 2 227, TGV 2 6 10, VA 189, etc 
effectual TGV 3 i 223 
essential O 2 i 64, essentially 2H6 5 2 39 
extemporal 1H6 316 

generally Hs i i 88, H8 2 i 47, R2 2 2 131, TS i 2 274 
heroical Hs 2 4 59, TC 3 3 192 

imperial AW 2 3 81, H i 2 9, 2H4 4 5 41, MND 2 i 163, WT 4 4 126, etc 
medicinal WT 2 3 37 

mutually Cl i 106, MM 2 3 27 (2x), MWW 4 6 10, 5 5 103 
naturally TS pr i 87 

perpetual AC 2 2 127, J 5 7 77, RL 784, 1638, S 56 8, T 2 i 285, etc 
personally H8 5 i 62, MM 5 1 160, R2 2 3 135 
severally Cy 5 5 397, JC 3 2 10, TC 4 5 274 
terrestrial R2 3 2 41 

unnatural AYL 4 3 123, C 3 i 293, H i 5 25, J 2 i 10, TA 5 3 48, WT 
23 112, etc 

unusual L 2 3 4, M 2 i 13, MM 5 i 463, TmA 4 2 38, TS 3 2 98, WT 




4 Syllables 

conditionally 3H6 i i 196 
effectually S 113 4, TA 4 4 107 
extemporally AC S 2 217, VA 835 
perpetually P i i 74, RL 686, TS 2 i 142 
uneffectual H i 5 90 
unnaturally 3H6 i i 193 

-ance, -ence, -ency 

2 Syllables 

alliance WT 2 3 21 
allowance L i 4 228 
appliance P 3 2 85 

conference AC i i 45, H 3 i 193, 2H6 1 1 25, JC 12 188, 4 2 51, LLL 
2 I 32, etc 

confluence TmA i i 42 
continence TA 1115 

countenance Cy 3 4 14, LLL 5 2 272, TS i i 234, 4 2 100, countenance 
AYL 4 3 36, H I 2 232, 1 3 113, etc 
dalliance H i 3 49, etc 

diffrence 2H4 4 i 181 (Q), LC 300, TNK 2 i 67 (prose), difference 
AYL 3 4 122, 1H4 3 I 219, TGV 4 4 195, WT 4 4 17, etc 
eloquence AC 3 12 26 
eminence M 3 2 31 
evidence AC i 3 74, Cy S 5 368 
furtherance Hs i 2 301, P 2 i 160 
ignorance L 4 5 9 

influence H i i 119, L 2 2 113, LLL 5 2 868, S 15 4, TmA 5 i 66, WT 
I 2426 

insolence H8 i i 138 
iterance O 5 2 150 
penitence WT 514 

pestlence H 5 i 196 (prose) , pestilence C 4 i 13, TC 4 2 21 
reference AC 5 2 23, AW 5 3 29, AYL i 3 129 
residence MM 5 i 12 

reverence Cy 4 2 95, Hs i 2 20, 2H6 3 2 207, J 3 i 159, R2 i i 72, etc 
suffrance H8 5 i 68, MV i 3 iii, TC i i 28 (Q), sufferance H8 2 3 15, 
JC I 384, 2 1 115, S 58 7, etc 



sustnance TA 536 (Q) 
temperance H8 1 1 124, M 4 3 92, temperance AC 5 2 48, C 3 3 28 
utt’rance C 4 7 49, uttrance H 3 2 378 (Q2, prose), TA 5 3 91, utterance 
Cy 3 I 73. J 4 1 98, JC 3 I 261, 3 2 226, RJ 2 2 59 (Q) 

3 Syllables 
constderance 2H4 5 2 98 

continuance 1H6 2 S 106, J 5 7 14, RJ pr 10, RL 1097, T 4 i 107 
deliverance AW 2 i 85, Cy 5 5 370, 3H6 2 i 97 
experience CE 3 i 89, TGV i 3 22, 2 4 69, TS i 2 52, etc 
inheritance C 3 2 68 

innocency J 4 3 iio, R3 3 5 20 (innocence Q) 

4 Syllables 

indifferency J 2 i 579 t 

-ant, -ent, -ment 

2 Syllables 

banishment €733 69, R3 i 3 168 
cormorant C 1 1 125, TC 226 (cf cormrant 6, OED) 
covenant 1H6 5 4 115, 5 5 88, R2 2 3 50, TS 2 i 128 
different J 3 4 60, L 4 3 37, LC 125, RJ i 5 92, etc 
element L 3 2 16, O 2 3 59 

eminent AW i 2 43, Cy i 6 65, 2 3 129, MM 4 4 24, WT 2 2 43 
excellent T 3 3 39, TA 237, TGV 2 i 100, WT 4 4 434 
imminent H 4 4 60, 2H6 S 3 19 

innocent AYL 2 i 39, H 3 4 43, J 4 i 25, M 3 2 45, T 3 3 72, etc 

miscreant 1H6 3 4 44, 5 3 44, L i i 163 

operant H 3 2 184, TmA 4 3 25 

parliament 3H6 1 1 71, i i 249 

penitent AC 2 2 92, Cy 5 4 10, MM 5 i 480, T 5 i 28 

pestilent AC 3 13 194, H 4 5 91, H8 i 2 49 

present (precedent) 1H4 2 4 37, precedent J S 2 3, president Cy 3 i 75 
president AC 3 7 18 

puissant 2H6 4 9 25, 3H6 2 I 207, 5 I 6, 5 2 31, JC 3 I 33, L 5 3 216, R3 

punishment Cy 5 5 334, L 4 2 93 
regiment AC 4 6 95, R3 5 3 60 
reverent 2H6 3 i 34 



vehement J i i 254, MV 5 i 154, O 3 3 251, R3 3 7 139, RL 475 
Vigilant C i i 119 

3 Syllables 
excellently TC 4 i 24 

impediment AC 2 2 148, C i i 74, M 4 3 64 
improvident 1H62 i 58 

indifferent Hs i i 72, H8 2 4 17, TmA i i 30, TS i 2 181 
predominant WT i 2 202 
reverently 3H6 2 2 109 
unreverent 1H6 3 i 49 

4 Syllables 

conveniently RJ 5 3 256 
disobedient R J 3 i 161 
indifferently JC i 2 87, TA i i 430 

-ary, -ery, -ory, -ury 

2 Syllables 

batfrie H5 3 3 7, batfry 1H6 i 4 6$, 3H6 3 r 36, battry LC 23, battrie 
LC 277, battery AC 2 7 114, 4 14 39, J 2 i 446, P 4 4 43 
beggery AC i i 15, Cy i 6 115, 2 3 124, 5 5 10, R3 4 3 53, RJ 5 i 71 
brav'ry S 34 4, TS 4 3 57, bravery AYL 2 7 80, Cy 3 i 18, H 5 2 79, JC 
5 1 10, MM I 3 10, O I I icx) (Q1-3) 
butchery AYL 2 3 27 
buttry TN i 3 73 (prose) 
cookery AC 2 6 64 
dawbry MWW 4 2 186 (prose) 
deanry MWW 4631 
drollery T 3 3 21 

evWy AW 2 3 233, 2H4 i i 7, R2 3 i 43, TmA i 2 205, TNK 2 4 27, etc 
feodary Cy 3 2 21 

flattrie TA 3 i 254 (Q), flattry VA 425, flattery AYL 2 i 10, CE 3 2 28, 
H5 4 I 268, L I 3 20, etc 

jooVry LLL 4 3 163, 5 2 76, fooVrie AW 4 3 374, Cy 3 2 75, jooU 

ery C^i 246, WT 3 2 185 
MV 2 5 35 
gallery WT 5 3 lo 
history Cy 3 5 99 



ivory RL 407, 464, 1234, TmA 1 1 70, TS 2 i 352, VA 230, 363 
jadrte TNK 5 4 72 

knavery H 3 4 205, MND 3 2 346, Oil 100, 2 i 321 
livery H 4 7 80, LC 105, 195, MND i i 70, RJ 2 2 8, VA 1107, etc 
lott’ry TC 1 3 374, lottry TC 2 1 140, MV i 2 32 (Q1-3, prose), lottrie 
MV 2 I IS, lottery JC 2 i 119 
mapp’ry TC i 3 205 
mastry TNK I i 231 

memory AC 3 13 163, Cy 2 2 44, H i 5 loi, WT 5 1 51, etc 
misery AC 3 13 112, Cy i 5 55, TmA 4 2 32, WT 3 2 123, etc 
mock’rie Cy 5 3 56, mock’ry M 3 4 107, O i 3 207, R3 3 2 27, mock’nes 
Hs 4pr 53, mockry MND 21 iii, mockrie TC 3 3 153, etc 
monast’ry R3 i 2 214 

mistrie (mystery) AW i 3 177, mistresse L 1 1 112 (Q), mystery O 

notary MV 1 3 145 

nunry H 3 1 122, 142, 145, 157 (Q2, prose) 
nursery AW i 2 16, Cy i i 59, TC i 3 319 
pillory TS 2 i 157 

rob’ry 2H4 i 2 69 (Q, prose), robb’rie S 40 9, robbry S 99 ii, robbery 
Cy 3 3 62, 1H4 2 4 569, MM 2 2 176 
salary H 3 3 79 
sanctuary R3 3 i 42, 4 1 94 
savory Cy 3 6 33, WT 4 4 104 
slavery H8 2 2 44, O 13 138, S 133 4, T 3 i 62 
slip fry Cy 3 3 48, 2H4 3 i 24, J 3 4 137, TmA 1 1 53, slippery AC 
1 2 192, C 4 4 12, Cy 2 2 34, JC 3 I 191, TC 3 3 84, WT i 2 273 
slobbry H5 3 5 13 
slumbry M 5 1 12 (prose) 
sluttery Cy 1 6 44 
spicery R3 4 4 424 
stilhtone VA 443 
thievery TC 4 4 45, TmA 4 3 438 
treachery 1H6 3 1 21, TGV 2 6 32, WT 2 i 195 
trumpery T 4 i 186 

victory AC 4 7 12, L 5 I 41, TNK 5 i 127, etc 

vaatne LC 281, MND 3 i 203, MV 3 2 47, RL 1611, 1745, viiatry MND 
1 1 210, 2 I 162, MWW 3 343 (prose), R2 2 i 63 (Q), RJ i 462, 
S 64 7, T 4 1 71, TA 3 I 269, TC 3 2 22, WT I 2 I, etc 
watnsh L 1 1 261, waterish O 3 3 15 



3 Syllables 

accompany TA i i 333, TmA i i 88 
adultery €7321,55 186 
artillery 1H6 i i 168, TS i 2 205 
auditory TA 5 3 96 

discovery C i 2 22, H5 2 2 162, T 2 i 243, TGV 3 i 45, VA 828, WT 
I 2441 

federarie WT 2 i 90 

huswifene O 2 1 113 

necessaries TNK 2 6 32 

promontory 3H6 3 2 135, MND 2 i 149 

recovery AW 2 3 42, recovery 3H6 S S 45, P 5 i 54 

sanctuary R3 3 i 28, 47 

unsavory 3H6 46 80, P 2 3 31, RJ 53 116, VA 1138 

5 Syllables 
extraordinary WT i 2 227 

mtergatories AW 4 3 207 (prose), MV 5 i 298, intergatory MV 5 i 300, 
interrogatories €755 392 

-ate, -ature, -vte 

2 Syllables 

appetite C i i 107, 182 
definite Cy i 6 43 

delicate AC 2 2 209, 2 7 113, C7 2 4 136, 5 5 47, L 3 4 12, O 3 3 269, T 
4 I 49» TmA 4 3 385 

desolate M 4 3 i, R2 i 2 73 (2x), T 3 3 80 

desperate AW 5 3 178, 1H6 46 54, 3H6 4 1 129, R3 44 170, RL 219, 
TmA 43469, desprat(e) H 4726 (Q2), RJ 4355 (Q2), 5359 
(Q2), desperate AYL 5 4 32, 1H4 3 1 198, T 3 3 104, etc 
emulate H i i 83 

favorite (s) H 3 2 214, 1H4 4 3 86, 2H4 4 2 25, 3H6 i i 56 
fortunate AC 4 14 76 

insuite (inf[i]mte) AW 53216, infinite AC i 29, 48 17, C7 i i 120, 
TA 5 3 159, TmA 3 5 108, 4 3 177, WT i 2 253 
moderate H i 2 238, TmA 3 4 116 
opposite AC I 2 130, O 4 2 91, TmA 1 1 284 
passionate J 21 544, MND 3 2 220, TGV i 2 124 



personate TmA i 1 69 
temp’rate M 2 3 114, temperate Hs 3 3 30, J 3 4 12, T 4 1 132, TS 2 i 296 
violate AC 3 10 24, Cy S 5 284, T i 2 347 

3 Syllables 

adulterate CE 2 2 142, H i 5 42, J 3 i 56, LC 175, RL 1645, S 121 5 
associate H 4 3 47, RJ 5 2 6, TA 5 3 169 
compassionate TA 2 3 217 

confederate Cy 3 3 78, 2H6 i 2 86, R3 4 4 502, TA i i 302, etc 
continuate O 3 4 178, TmA 1 1 11 

degenerate 3H6 1 1 183, J 5 2 151, L i 4 275, 4 2 43, R2 1 1 144, 2 i 262 

deliberate H 4 3 10, MM 3 i 90, MV 2 9 80 

desp’rately CE 5 i 140, desperately 3H6 3 2 178, R3 14 277, etc 

effeminate 1H6 1 1 35, 5 4 107, R2 5 3 10, TC 3 3 218 

extenuate AC 5 2 125, MM 2 i 27, O 5 2 342 

immediate CE 1 i 68, 2H4 4 5 42, R2 3 3 114, etc 

immoderate MM i 2 131 

importunate O 4 i 26 

incorporate C it 134, H5 5 2 394, MND 3 2 208, RJ 2 6 37, VA 540 

infinitely 1H4 2 3 105, TmA i 2 233 

intemperate MA 4 1 60, MM 5 i 98, TNK 4 3 76 

inveterate C 2 3 234, J $ i 14, R2 i i 14, T i 2 122 

legitimate L i 2 16, 18, 19 

moderately RJ 2 6 14 

reverberate J 5 2 170, TC 3 3 120, TN i $ 291 
temp'rately C 2 i 240, 3 i 219, temperately H 3 4 140 
unfortunate C $ 3 97, L 4 6 68, M 4 1 152 , 0 5 2 283 

4 Syllables 

distemprature 1H4 3 i 34, 5 i 3, RJ 2 3 40, distemperature{s) CE 5 i 82, 
MND 2 1 106, P 5 I 27 

immediately MND 1 1 45, MW 4 6 25, RJ 31 192, etc 
immoderately R J 4 i 6 
inconsiderate J 2 i 67 
uncompassionate TGV 3 i 231 



-er, -ar, -or 

2 Syllables 

armorer AC 447, 2H6 2 3 50, TC 126 

hacKler 1H6 5 4 13, bachelor 3H6 3 2 103, MND 2 2 59, R3 13 loi, 
T4167, TNKS185 
blusterer LC 58 
chamberer O 3 3 265 
chancellor 3H6 i i 238 
conqueror JC S 5 55 
counsellor C i i 120, WT 2 3 55 
cozener 1H4 I 3 255, TNK 3 1 44 
discoverer 2H4 413 

emperor AC 3 7 21, 62, Hs 5 pr 38, TA i i 233, TGV i 3 27, 38, etc 
falkners RJ 2 2 159 
favorer TA i i 9 

flatterer 1H6 2 4 31, R2 2 i 100, S11211, T338 
furtherer T 5 i 73 

gardener R2 3 4 100, gardener H5 2 4 39 
gosmore (gossamer) L4649 (Q) 
laborer AW i 2 67, H i i 78 
limit er TNK S i 30 
messenger AC 3631 

minister AC 3 13 23, C i 1 106, M i 5 49, 5 3 40, 46, TmA 416, etc 
muleter AC 3 7 36 
murmur er H8 2 2 131 

murtKrer R3 i 2 64, murderer J 4 3 80, MND 3 2 57, RJ 3 5 85, etc 
ocular O 3 3 360 

ojtner MND 2 2 93, M 4 3 1 10, 2H6 2 i 90 
opener 2H4 4 2 20 
passenger 2H6 3 i 129 
pensioner MND 2 i 10 

poysner H 3 2 dumb show (Q2), poisoner WT i 2 352 
popular C 2 I 230, 3 I 106, T I 2 92 

prisoner Cy 11 y2, 1H4 i 3 23, J 3 4 7, RL 1608, 1652, S 5 10, VA no, 

profferer TGV i 2 56 
properer AYL 3551 
regular TmA 5 4 61 



rumor er C 4 6 47 
scnvener TS 44 59 

senator C 3 i 92, 4 7 30, TmA 4 i 24, 5 i 161 

stmular €755 200, L 3 2 54 

slanderer J 2 i 175, S 140 12 

slaughterer 1H6 2 5 109 

sorcerer 1H6 i i 26 

suffrers TNK 2 i 39 

summoner L 3 2 59 

threatner J S i 49 

traveler T 3 3 26 

wandrers VA 825, wanderer MND 2 i 39, 43 
borrower H i 3 75, M 3 i 27 

follower AC 4 2 24, 1 H6 4 5 45, R2 3 2 217, TA i i 9, etc 
widower AC 2 2 122, AW 5 4 70, 3H6 3 3 227 

3 Syllables 

ambassador 2H6 487, H8 4 2 109 
interrupter TA i i 208 

particular T 5 i 135, 305, TmA 4 3 159, WT i 2 311, etc 
petitioner LLL 5 2 207 

4 Syllables 

executioner TNK 5 4 122 
particularly TmA i i 46 

-ering, -onng, -unng 

2 Syllables 

altnng S 115 8, WT 4 4 410 
anchoring L 4 6 18, TGV 3 i 118 
ang'ring L 4 i 39 

answering AC 5 2 X02, JC 5 i 6, VA 849, etc 
auguring AC 2 i 10 
battering J 2 i 382 

bettering R3 4 4 122, S 32 5, bettering S 82 8, T i 2 90 
blistring TNK 1 1 146 
blubbring (2x) RJ 3 3 87 

Uustrmg 1H4 5 i 6, J 5 i 21, RL 115, blustering P 5 3 22 
carping (capenng) 1H4 3 2 63 



censuring AC 5 2 57 

chaifnng 3H6 5 6 48, chattnng TNK i i 21, chattering TS 4 2 58 
checkring (chequering) RJ 2 3 2 
clambnng C 2 i 226, H 4 7 175 
clustring 1H6 4 7 13, T 2 2 175, 4 i 112 

conqu’ring AC 3 13 75, Hs 5 pr 28, TC I 3 352, conquering AC i 2 106, 
2 7 112, 1H6 2 I 26, 4 7 95, LLL 5 2 566 
covering Cy 5 5 350, H5 2 4 38, L 4 1 44, P i i 37, i 2 80, R2 3 2 no, 
WT I 2 294 

diffring AC 2 2 116, TNK i 3 33, differing Cy 3 686, TmA i i 170 
entring 3H6 3 3 63, H8 i 4 21, MA 2 I 87 (prose), MM 44 10 (prose), 


festring RJ 4 3 44 
figuring 2H4 3 i 81, LC 199 

flatt’ring 2H4 i 3 29, R2 2 i 17, 4 i 279, TS pr i 44, flattnng RL 641, 
flattering RJ 2 2 141, VA 284, etc 
glimmering MND 2 i 77, 3 2 61, 5 i 398 

glist’ring H5 2 2 1 17, R2 3 3 178, glistrmg H8 2321, glistering TA 217, 
WT 4 I 14 

ghtring RL 945, glittering J 3 i 80, MND 5 i 279, etc 

hammering 2H6 i 2 47, TA 2 3 39 

harboring 2H6 4 7 109 

hindring MND 3 2 329, RL 551 

hovering RL 1297, WT i 2 302 

laboring 2H6 3 i 339, JC 1 1 4, LC 137, RL 1380, etc 

laundrmg LC 17 

lingering Cy i 5 34, 5 5 51, 2H4 1 1 156, lingrmg AC 2 5 66, 1H6 1 1 74, 
4 4 19, 2H6 3 2 247, MM 2 4 67, MV 4 1 271, RL 328, T 3 3 77, TA 
2 1 1 10, WT 1 2 320 
mam'ring O 3 3 70 
mastnng LC 240, maistnng VA 114 
measuring RJ i 1 133 

murd’nng C 5361, R3 14259, murdnng H 4595 (Q2), murth’rmg 
3H6 2 6 59, M I 5 49, murthering 3H6 5 6 32, etc 
murmuring AC i 5 25, AYL 4 3 80, J 4 2 53, L 4 6 20 
mustnng RL 442, mustering R2 3 3 86 

numbering 3H6 2 1 162, numbring LLL 5 2 35, R2 2 2 145, 5 5 50 
offring 1H4 4 i 69, TC 4 3 9, 5 3 17, TN 51 117, WT 318, offering 
3H6 2 2 32, JC 2 2 39, TmA 5 1 127 
ord’ring WT 2 i 169, 4 4 139, ordering J 5 i 77, WT 2 3 105 
pcdtring C 3 i 58 



pilfnng L 2 2 151 (Q), pilfering H5 i 2 142 
plaist’rmg H 3 l 51 (plastring Q2) 

Poprin RJ 2 I 38 
poudnng (powdering) Hs 2 i 79 
quartering 1H6 4211 
quivering RJ 2 i 19 

rendering 2H4 i i 108, r endring MV 4 i 88 
severing H8 2 3 16, RJ 3 5 8 
shouldering 1H6 4 1 189 
shuddnng MV 3 2 110 

simpnng AYL ep 16 (prose), L 4 6 120, TNK 5 1 104 
sistring LC 2 
slandnng S 127 12 

slaughtering €7538, slaughtnng 1H6 3 1 87 
squandnng AYL 2 7 57 
staggering TNK 4 1 10 
suffering C 1 10 18, suffnng H 3 2 71 (Q2), LC 272, R2 1 2 30, S 42 8, 
TN I 5 284, suffering LC 69, 178, etc 
swaggnng H i 49 (Q2), MND 3 i 79 (Qq), swaggering TN 5 i 408 
tott’nng (tattenng) J 5 5 7 
temp’rtng RJ 2 pr 14 

tendring 1H6 4 7 10, LLL 2 1 244, R2 i i 32 (Q) , R3 i 1 44, TA 1 1 476 
torturing MND $ i 37, tortenng TA 2 3 285 
tott’nng R3 3 2 37, tottring AW i 3 129, tottering P 3 2 40 
trenchenng T 2 2 187 
usuring TmA 3 5 no, 4 3 516 
uttnng RL 1813, S 69 4, uttering MND 2 i 157 
wand’rmg R3 i 4 39, 52, wandring H 5 i 279, MND i 2 47, 2 2 35, 3 2 381, 
4 I loi, R2 2 3 120, R3 4 I 3, RL 839, S 1 16 7, TS 3 I 90, wandering 
J 4 1 93, etc 

wai/ ring 2H4 pr 19 (Q), wavering 1H6 4 i 138, LC 97, R2 2 2 129, TN 


whisp’ring M 5 i 79, WT i 2217, whispring MV I 3 125, WT 44250 
(prose), wispring RL 769, whispering RJ i 5 25, etc 
windring (wandnng^) T 4 1 128 
withering MND i i 7, 77, S 126 4 

wond’nng C 5 6 99, WT 4 i 25, wondring AW 2 i 93, 2H6 i i 34, RJ 
2 229, RL 1596, 1845, S 123 10 



3 Syllables 

considering H8 3 2 135, RJ 2 2 64 
distempnng O i i 99, VA 653 
encountnng C i 6 8, TC 3 2 40 
mgendring TC 2 3 170 
lije-r end' ring H 4 5 146 {-r endring Q2) 
ministring H 5 i 264 
night-wandring RL 307 

remembring Hs 5 pr 43, R2 2 3 47, RJ 2 2 175, T i 2 133, TGV 2 6 28 
sequestring TC 338 

-ehng, -thng, -omtng 

2 Syllables 

blossoming AC 4 12 23, MM i 4 41 
caviling 3H6 i i 117 
groveling J 2 i 305 

traveling Cy 3 3 33, M 2 4 7, R2 5 5 73, TS pr i 76 

-emng, -omng 

2 Syllables 

beckning TC 5 3 53, TNK 3 5 129, rhyming with reckning 
burthening 1H6 2 5 10 
Christning MV 4 i 398 

coosnmg RL 381, cozening O 4 2 132, R2 2 2 68 

darkning S 100 4, TC 587 (Q , darking F) 

deaff'mng 2H4 3 i 24 {deaffing Q), WT 319, deafmng P 3 i 5 

hardning C 4 i 25, WT i 2 146 

hastning WT 5 i 189 

harkning TS 4 4 53 

leav'mg TC i i 20 (prose) 

lengthening Cy i 6 201 

lightning (lightening) R J S 3 90, 91 

lik'mng 2H4 2 i 98 {liking Q) 

listning 1H4 2 4 235 (prose), H8 i 2 120, M 2 2 29, P i 2 87, 5 i 235, 
RL 283, 1410, 1548, VA 698 

opning LLL 4 3 223 (Q), opening AYL 4 3 iii, Cy 5 S 42, H5 i 2 16, 
MM 4 1 31, MND 3 2 392, WT 4 4 559 



pardoning R2 5 3 96, RJ 3 i 202 
poysntng H 3 2 300 (Q2, prose), poisnmg VA 740 (Q5 , pois'mng Q6) 
qutckmng MM S i 500, TmA 4 3 184 
ravening Cy i 6 49 

reck’mng O 3 4 176, TniA 2 2 159, reckmng H i 5 78 (Q2), H5 4 i 308, 
LLL 1242 (prose), 52498 (prose), MA 5452, MM 5146, RJ 
I 2 33, RL 19, TNK 3 5 130, TS 4 I 87, reckoning 1H4 3 1 157, 3 2 152, 
MA549,RJ 124, S 1155 
ripening RJ 2 2 121 
seasoning RL 796 
shortning 1H6 4 6 37 
strength’ning 3H6 267 

threatning AC 3 13 171, C i 6 36, CE 1 1 10, H 2 2 528, H5 2 4 no, 3H6 
I 317, 2658, 5 3 4, J 34120, 5273, JC I 38, MM I 324, R2 3351, 
RL 590, 1370, TA 1 1 134, 2 I 4, 3 I 224, 4 2 94, TmA 5 i 169, TS 

3 Syllables 
threatningly AW 2 3 87 

Vowel or Diphthong + -mg 

I Syllable 

being AYL 2 i 23, 3 2 95, RJ i 1 135, 198, RL 229, S 52 14, T i 2 72, 
TGV I 2 39, WT 2 I 39, etc 
crying WT 3 3 32 
doing M i 4 23, WT 3 2 166 
dying WT 1 2 92 
gnawing TA 3 i 262 

going LLL 3 i 194, RJ 5 3 276, TNK i 1 196 

growing H8 i 2 116, WT 4 4 79 

having L 2 2 102, R3 i 2 234, T i 2 479, VA 828 

knowing C 2 3 155, 2H6 i 2 97 

laying AC 2 2 55, 2H6 4 i 25, TGV i 2 135 

lying JC 43201 

playing LC 242, RJ 2 5 24 

seeing C 2 3 183, H 3 i 33, 1H4 5 4 33, RJ i 2 96, etc 
throwing O 1 1 52 
tying C 2 3 205 
wooing O 3 3 71, 1 12 



2 Syllables 

arguing C 1 1 225, JC 5 i 48, TS 3 i 55 
bandying 1H6 4 i 190, RJ 3 i 92 
bellowing MV 5173, T21311 
borrowing AW 3 i 9, H i 3 77, TmA 2 2 187 
burying RJ 2 3 10, RL 1810 
carrying H i 4 31 

emptying H5 3 5 6, M 4 3 68, MND i i 216 
envying C i i 234, R2 i i 23 

following CE I I 48, LC 130, MND 2 i 131, RJ 3 2 121, RL 186, etc 
halloing TGV S 4 13 
honeying H 3 4 93 

issuing 3H6 2 6 82, MV 3 2 266, R J i i 92, TA 2 4 30 
journeying TGV i 3 41 
lacking (lackeying) AC i 4 46 
levying JC 4 i 42 

marrying 1H6 2 5 86, O 3 3 206, R3 i i 159 

pitying C i 6 36, Cy i i 81, H8 2 i 112 

rescuing 3H6 142 

shadowing J 2 i 14 

studying 2H6 31111, R2SS1 

swallowing Cy 3 5 58, 1H4 5 i 64, J 42 195, R3 3 7 128, RL 557, TA 
23239, VA 751 

tarrying JC 5 5 30, M 5 5 48, MND 5 i 149, TC 2 3 269 
varying AC i 4 46, 4 15 ii, LLL 5 2 773, S 105 10, WT i 2 170 
wearing (wearying) AYL 2 4 37 

3 Syllables 

accompanying TmA i i 87 
dis candying AC 3 13 165 
miscarrying TNK 4 i 50 
hearUsorrovnng R3 2 2 112 

-ety, ’ity, -y 

2 Syllables 

amity MV 343 

brevity H 2 2 90, TC 4 4 43 

chanty Cs6ii, Cy42 169, R2 3 i 5, TA 5 i 89 



company AC 2 2 172, R3 2 2 137, TGV 3 i 27, TN 14 37 
courfste TS 42 in, curfsie VA 888 
de^ty T 2 I 278 
enemy H 4 S 144, 2H6 3 2 165, R J 5 3 TN 2 i 46, etc 
harmony Cy 5 S 467 

moity AW 3 2 69, H i i 90, 1H4 3 i 96, L i i 7, moyt%e MV 4 i 26, R3 
I 2 249, TNK I I 214, moyitie S 46 12, etc 
mutiny AC 3 ii 13, C 3 i 126, P 3 pr 29, TA 4 i 85 
piety TmA 4 i 15 
poesy TS I I 36 
policy AC 2 2 68, C 3 2 42 
prophesy 2H4 4 5 237, T 5 i 217 
quality AC 3 13 33, 5 i 63, TmA i i 54 
remedy C 3 2 26, J 4 i 91, TN 3 4367. WT 5 i 77 
royalty Cy 5 5 39, R2 3 3 113, WT i 2 15 
shadowy L i i 65, TGV 542, TNK 5 i 137 
similes LC 227 

sinewy AYL 2 2 14, TC 2 3 259, VA 99 
villainy Cy 5 2 13, 5 5 225, TmA 4 3 20, 437 

3 Syllables 
activity TmA 4 3 163 

authority AC 3 13 90, MM 2 2 134, WT i 2 463, 2 i 53 

capacity TC 3 2 26 

captivity 2H6 2 2 42, O 4 2 51 

celerity MM 5 i 399 

ceremony H5 4 i 256, 257, 4 i 261, TNK 148, 314 

deformity L 4 2 60 ( ^) 

dexterity H i 2 157, TC 5 5 27 

disparity TNK 5 3 88 

extremities C 3 2 41 

hostility 1H4 4 3 44 

humanity AC 5 i 32, L 4 2 49 

ignomie (ignominy) TA 42 115 (Q2-3), ignominy 1H4 5 4 100 

melancholy S 45 8 (unless stressed - ) 

necessity AC 2 2 58, C 3 i 147 

nobility AC 2 5 82, C i i 201 

fisnomie AW 4 5 42 

propriety O 2 3 176 

prosperity C i 5 24 

satiety TS 1 1 24 



seventy C 3 i 269 

sincerity MM 5 i 451 

society Cy I 6 167, TmA 4 1 31, etc 

sov’raigntie RL 36, 69, sovereignty MND i i 82 

spirituality H5 i 2 132 

vehemency MM 5 i 109 

4 Syllables 

confederacy 1H4 4 4 38 
perpetuity €7546 
singularities WT 5 3 12 

-ous, -tous, -uous 

2 Syllables 

amorous AC i 5 28, 2 i 33, LC 154, MND 2 i 68, MV 2 8 9, RJ 3 2 8, etc 
barbarous Cy 4 4 6, H5 I 2 271, J 4 2 59, MV 2 9 33, TN 4 i 52, etc 
beauteous RJ 2 2 122, TGV 5 2 12, etc 

boyst’rous 2H4 4 5 192, 3H6 2 i 70, R3 2 3 44, boistrous AYL 2 3 32, 
J 4 1 76, R2 I I 4, boystrous H 3 3 22, 2H4 4 1 49, O 13 229, R2 

1 3 134. VA 326, boisterous AYL 4 3 31, etc 
cautelous C 4 1 33 

clamorous 1H4 3 1 40, M 56 10, MND 2 2 6, R2 5 5 56, TS 3 2 180, 
VA 693 

credulous Cy 5 5 210, L i 2 195, MM 2 4 130, O 4 i 46 
curious AC 3 2 35, AW i 2 20, RJ 14 31, etc 

dang’rous JC 2 i 78, dangerous H 4 3 2, H5 2 2 162, TGV 5 441, VA 
508, etc 

emulous TC 2 3 242, 3 3 189, 4 1 28, TNK 5 3 124 
envious AYL i 2 252, RJ 1 1 158, etc 
feverous C i 4 61, M 2 3 66, MM 3 i 75, TC 3 2 38 
funous 1H4 I I 3, RJ 3 I 126, etc 

generous H i 3 74, $ 2 253, L i 2 8, O 3 3 280, TC 2 2 155 

glonous CE 3 2 50, RJ 2 2 27, etc 

glutfnous TmA 3 4 52 

gracious H5 5 2 92, RJ 2 2 113, etc 

hideous MM i 4 63, RJ 4 3 31, etc 

humorous AYL i 2 277, 2 3 8, H5 2 4 28, J 3 i 119, LLL 3 i 177, RJ 

2 I 31 

impious Cy 336, H 1 2 94, H5 3315, 1H6 5 1 12, 2H6 2 4 53, RL 
199, 8 c9 



wardllous C 4 S 30, R3 i 2 254, marvelous RJ 3 S 232, etc 
mountainous C 2 3 127 

murderous €742 328, 2H6 3 2 220, 5 i 185, JC 4 3 267, R3 i 2 94, 4 4 227, 
murth’rous R3 i 3 134, murdrous H 5 2 336, RL 1735, S 9 14, 10 5, 
129 3, TN 3 I 159, murderous 2H6 3 2 49, J 42 255, etc 
mutinous C i i 115, 153, S 3 59, 3H6 2 5 90, T 5 i 42 
odious AW 2 1 175, MND 3 1 84, MWW 2 1 123, T 3 i 5, etc 

odorous MND 2 i no 
ominous H 2 2 476, TC 536 
pendulous L 3 4 69 

perilous €742 145, H I 3 102, 1H4 4 1 43. 5 2 96, H5 pr 22, JC i 3 47, 

M 5344 

piteous RJ 3 2 54, 3 3 86, T I 2 14, etc 

poisonous AC 4 9 12, Cy i 5 7, 1H4 5 4 56, RL 530, 777, T i 2 319, etc 
populous AC 3 6 50, O I i 77, 4 I 64, P 4 6 197 
prosp’rous AC 4 6 6, H5 5 2 401, R2 i 3 78, prosperous T 4 i 104, etc 

quarellous Cy 3 4 162 

rancorous CE i i 6, 1H6 4 i 185, 2H6 3 i 24, 3 2 199, R3 i 3 50 
rai/nous H8 i i 159, i 2 79, ravenous 1H6 5 4 31, 2H6 3 i 78, R2 3 2 13, 

rigorous C 3 1 267, CE 1 1 9, MV 418 

riotous AC I 3 29, H 4 5 loi, L i 3 6, R3 2 1 100, etc 

ruinous TA 5 i 21, TmA 4 3 465 

scandalous MM 5 1 122, WT 2 3 120 

scrupulous AC i 3 48, 3H6 4 7 6i 

senous RJ i i 185, T 2 i 219, etc 

sland’rous Cy 3 3 52, JC 4 i 20, R2 4 i 24, R3 i 2 96, TS 21 255, slan- 
drousj 3 I 44, sclandrous RL 161, 1001, slaundrous TNK i i 19, slan- 
derous MM 3 2 199, R2 I I 61 
studious 1H6 2 5 97, TGV I 3 10 

sulph’rous L 3 2 4, sulphrus H 153 (Q2), sulphurous L 46 130, MM 
22115, P 3 16, T I 2204 
sumptuous 1H6 S I 20, 2H6 I 3 133, 4 7 106 
tedious J 3 4 108, MV 2611, RJ 3 2 28, etc 

timorous AW 2 5 86, 1H6 4 240, 46, 3H6 i i 231, O i i 75, R3 4 1 85, 
VA 673, 881 

trayfrous 2H6 3 2 240, TA i i 452, traitorous C 3 i 175, H i 5 43, 1H6 
4 1 173. TA 1 1 302, 4 1 93 

treacherous Cy 4 2 317, H 5 2 327, 1H4 5 4 57, H5 2 pr 22, etc 
ulcerous H 3 4 147, M 4 3 151, TmA 4 3 39 



vaporous M 3 5 24, vaporous MM 4 i 58 
venomous AC 5 2 308, C 4 i 23, TA $ 3 13, TC 4 2 12 
venturous 2H6 329, MND 4 i 37 
vtllanous O 4 2 22, RJ 5 3 52, T 4 i 250, etc 
mperous C 3 i 287, Cy 34 41, 1H6 3 i 72 

mrtuous AYL 235, 1H6 2 2 20, MND 2 2 59, RL 252, S 72 5, 88 4, etc 

3 Syllables 

adventrous P i i 35, TA 5 3 112, adventerous 1H4 i 3 191, adventurous 
P 2451 

amorously LC 205 

boisterously J 3 4 136 

contemptuous 2H6 i 3 86, J 2 i 384 

dangerously C 5 3 188, 2H6 2 i 171, J 4 2 186 

enviously H 4 5 6 

hideously 2H4 5 2 12 

idolatrous AW i I 108 

imperious 2H4 i i 62, TGV 2 4 130, etc 

impittious (impetuous) H 4 5 100, impetuous L 3 i 8 

incestuous Hi 5 41, 3 3 90, L 3 2 55, incestious H i 2 157, 5 2 336 (Q2) 

industrious 1H4 i i 62, J 2 i 376, M 5 4 16, T 4 i 33 

pestiferous 1H6 3 i 15 

preposterous 3H6 565, R3 2 4 63, TS 319 

presumptuous AW I 3 204, 1H6 3 i 8, 4 i 125, 2H6 i 2 42, 3H6 i i 157 

ngorously 1H6 5452 

seriously AW 2 i 84, T 4 i 125, etc 

studiously 1H6 312 

superfluous J 4 2 4, LLL 5 2 148, etc 

tempestuous 1H6 5 5 5, TA 5 3 69 

timorously R3 3 5 57 

traitorously 2H6 2 2 27, 3 2 123 

tumultuous 1H6 I 3 70, 2H6 3 2 239, 3H6 5 5 I, R2 4 I 140 
tyrannous Cy i 3 36, L 3 4 156, O 3 3 449, WT 2 3 28, etc 
venomously L 4 3 48, P 3 i 7 
virtuously O 4 i 7, TC 2 3 127, TGV 4 3 38 

4 Syllables 

contemptuously TGV i 2 112 
imperiously VA 265 
industriously WT i 2 256 



odoriferous J 3 4 26 
prepost’rously MND 3 2 i2i (Q), prepostrously O 1 3 62, preposterously 
H5 22 112, S 109 II 

Other Cases of Syncope 

2 Syllables 

absolute AC 2 2 166, 3 7 43, M 3 6 40, etc 
benefit AC 5 2 128, C 5 6 67, 1H6 5 4 106 
chev’rill TN 3 i 13 (prose), chiverell H8 2 3 32 
choleric MM 2 2 130 

citizen AC 5 1 17, H5 i 2 199, O 1 1 90, TA 4 4 79, etc 
cockrels RJ i 3 53 

cronet H 47173 (Q2, coronet F), crownet AC 41227, coronet H8 
4 l 54, L 1 1 141, T 1 2 114 
covetings Cy 2 5 25 
cusnage H 5 2 67 (Q2 , coosenage F) 
emrold MWW 5 5 74 
fugitive AC 317 
heretic L 3 2 84 

intrest RL 1067, TmA 3 4 52, VA 210, interest Cy i 3 30, MA 4 1 232, etc 
intnm S 56 9, TN 5 l 98, interim C i 6 5 H5 5 pr 43, LLL i 1 172, 
M I 3 154, O I 3 259, P 5 2 14 
labyrinth VA 684 

ladyship TGV 2 4 87, 105, WT 2 2 46 
licounsh TmA 4 3 194 

med’cine AC I 5 36, AW 5 3 102, Cy 4 2 243, 5 5 29, 2H4 4 S 163, M 
43 215, medcin H 52 325 (Q2), medcine J 5 1 15, MND 3 2 264 (Q), 
TC 5 10 35, TNK 1 1 191, medicine AYL 2 761, etc 
pennyworth 2H6 i i 222, RJ 4 5 4 
personage MND 3 2 292 

politic O 3 3 13, TmA 3 3 35, pollticke ^ TN 2 5 175 (prose) 

privilege 1H6 5 4 61, L 5 3 129, R2 1 1 120, etc 

qualify WT 2 i 113, 4 4 543 

resolute M 4 1 79, MM 2 i 12 

reverenced 1H6 3 3 iS, 5 4 140 

reverend J 3 1^24, LC 58, RL 90, WT 4 4 73, etc 

rhetoric LLL 4 3 60, TS 1 1 35 

I Perhaps a tmsprmt for pohftcke , but note poVttck 7, OED 


sov^rains 3H6 466, sov'ratgnes R3 i 4212, sovereign R3 2 i 46, etc, 
soveratgnest 1H4 i 3 $7 
strawhernes R3 3 4 32 
vemson Cy 3 3 75, 4 4 37 
victoress R3 4 4 336 {victress F4) 
visiting AC 4 15 68 
votresse MND 2 i 123, 163 
votarist MM 145 

womanish J 4 i 36, RJ 3 3 no, 4 i 119 

3 Syllables 

comparative Cy 2 3 134 
honourably H8 4 2 19, JC 5 5 79 
politicly TS 4 I 191 
reasonably TNK i 2 48 
soliciting Cy 2 3 52, L I I 234 
speculative M 541 9, O 13 271 
unreverend J 11 227, TGV 2 6 14 

4 Syllables 
incomparable ^ H8 i i 27 

med*cinable TC i 3 91, medcinable Cy 3 i 33, medicinable O 5 2 351, TC 

2 Trisyllabic, if its final I should be nonsyllabic before the following and 


Stress on the First Syllable 
Disyllabic Words 
absurd H 3 2 65 , otherwise - 

anhque AYL 2 i 31, 2 3 57, C 2 3 126, H 2 2 491, 5 2 352, H5 5 pr 26, 
J 4 2 21, MND 5 I 3 , 0 5 2 216, S 17 12, 19 10, 59 7, 68 9, TN 243 
assure Cy i 6 159 , otherwise - 
austere TmA i i 54 , otherwise — 
baboon M 4 1 37 , otherwise - 
bemgn P 2 pr 3 

cashier O 2 3 381 , otherwise - 
cement AC 2 i 48, 3 2 29, C 4 6 85 

chastise AC 5 2 54, 1H6 i 5 12, J 2 i 117, 5 2 84, M i 5 28, R2 2 3 104, R3 
4433i.TAii32 ,also--‘ 
combat (n ) 1H6 l 2 89, etc 

commune H 4 5 202, H5 3 i 7, MM 4 3 108, TS I i loi , also — 
compel H8 2 3 87, MM 2 4 57, TNK 3 i 67 , otherwise — 
complete H 1 4 52, 1H6 i 2 83, H8 i 2 118, LLL 1 1 137, MM i 3 3, R3 
4 4 190, TC 3 3 181, 4 I 27 , also - 

complot (n ) 2H6 3 I 147, R3 3 I 200, TA 2 3 265, 5 2 147, (vb) R2 
I 3 190, also - 

conceal RJ 3 3 98 , otherwise - ^ 

condemn AC i 3 49, TmA 3 5 53 , otherwise — 

condign 2H6 2 i 130 

confess TNK 3 i 35 , otherwise — 

confine (vb) S 107 4 , otherwise - 

confirm MA 5417, otherwise - 

congeal R3 1 2 56, otherwise - 

congrue H 4 3 66 (Q2) 

consign TC 4 4 47 , otherwise — 

consort (n ) TGV 3 2 84 , also - 

construe ]C 1 2 45, i 3 34, 2 i 307 , 0 4 1 102, TGV 1 2 56 , also - 
contract (n ) Cy 2 3 120, T 4 1 19, 84, 133, TN 51 159 , otherwise - 




contrite H5 4 i 313, RL 1727 
contrive O i 2 3 , otherwise - 
corrupt (adj ) H8 5 i 132, otherwise - 
create M 4 3 187 , otherwise - 
demure H8 i 2 167 , but - RL 1219 
descant (vb) PP 14 4, R3 i i 27, RL 1134 
despise H 3 i 72 , otherwise - 

direct (adj ) O i 2 86, TmA 4 3 20, but - TC 3 3 158 

disease Cy i 6 123, TmA 3 i 56, otherwise - 

disperse RL 1805 , otherwise - 

distinct MV 2 9 61, TC 4 4 47 , but - TC 4 5 245 

distract LC 231 , otherwise — 

distress 1H6 4 3 30 , otherwise - 

divine Cy 2 I 62, 4 2 170, O 2 I 73 , otherwise - ^ 

enjoin AW 3 S 97 , otherwise - 

entire L i i 243, LLL 2 i 131 , otherwise - 

exact (adj ) 1H4 4 i 46, TC 4 5 232 , otherwise — 

excuse (n ) R3 i 2 84 , otherwise - -«■ 

exhale 1H4 S i 19, otherwise - 

exile (n ) C 5 3 45» RJ 3 3 I3» 43» TA 3 i 285 , also - 

exile (vb) M 5 8 66, RL 640 , otherwise - 

expel TmA 3 i 66 , otherwise - 

expert (adj ) 1H6 3 2 127 , 0 2 i 49 

expire RL 26 , otherwise - 

express (adj ) J 4 2 234, otherwise — 

extreme ASfsf 3 3 6, C4 5 74, 1H4 1 3 31, L4 6 26, LLL 5 2 749, R3 3 5 44» 
44 i86,Rj2pr I4,RL230 ,TAs i ii3,TGV2 7 22,TS2 i 6, also- - 
impair (adj ) TC 4 5 103 
impress (vb) L 5 3 50, otherwise - 
impure R3 3 7 234, RL 1078 , but - ^ VA 736 
inject TmA 4 i 30 , otherwise - 
July H8 I I 154, WT I 2 169 
machine TNK 3 5 113 

maintain 1H6 i i 71, TA 5 2 72, TNK 3 i 53 , otherwise - 
monsieur AYL 279 

obscure (adj ) H 4 5 213, LLL 3 i 83, M 2 3 64, MV 2 7 51, R2 3 3 154, 
TA 2 3 77 

ordain TA S 3 22 , otherwise - 

perfect (vb) AW 4 4 4, H5 i i 69, MM 4 3 146, T i 2 79, TGV i 3 23 

perturbed Cy 3 4 108, but H 15 183 

presage (n ) J i i 28, 3 4 158 , also - 



proclaim L 4 6 230, otherwise — 
profane €723 129, LLL 4 3 85 , otherwise - 
profound H 4 1 i, LLL 4 3 168, otherwise - 
project (vb) AC S 2 121 
pursue MV 4 i 298 , otherwise - 
pursuit S 143 4, otherwise - 
reflect (n ) TNK i i 127 
relapse (n ) Hs 4 3 107 , but - P 3 2 iii 
remiss 1H6 4 3 29 , otherwise - 
renew O 2 i 81 , otherwise - 
replant 3H6 3 3 198 
resolve AW 2 i 207 , otherwise - 
respect (vb) TGV S 4 54, otherwise - 
return (vb) C 3 2 135 , otherwise - 
reveal TNK 5 i 99 , otherwise - -«• 
revenge (n ) C 5 2 90 , otherwise - 
secure Hi56i,04i72, otherwise — 
severe 1H6 5 4 114, MM 2 2 41 , otherwise - 
sincere H8 1 1 153, L 2 2 iii , otherwise - 
subdue L 3 4 72, O 52 348 , otherwise ~ 
success TNK i i 209, 5 3 69, otherwise - 
supreme C 5 3 71, Cy i 6 4, 1H6 i 3 57 . J 3 1 i 5 S. R3 2 1 13 . 3 7 nS, RL 
780, VA 996 , but - -«• C 3 1 1 10 
terrene AC 3 13 153 
torment (vb) Cy 5 5 142, otherwise - 

Trisyllabic Words 

attribute (vb) TNK i 2 67 

character (n ) TN 5 i 354, etc , also - - 

character (vb) AYL 3 2 6, S 108 i, 122 2 , otherwise - - 

confessor H8 i i 218, i 2 149, MM 4 3 133, RJ 2 6 21, 3 3 49 , also - - 

confiscate CE i 2 2, 3H6 4 6 55, MV 4 i 311, 332 , also - - 

contrary 2H6 3 i 58, RJ 3 2 64, T i 2 95, etc , also - -i- - 

contumely H 3 i 71 

corrosive 1H6 333, 2H6 3 2 403 

empiric AW 2 1 125 

enginer H 3 4 206, mginer TC239 (Q), tngemuer O 2 i 65 

horizon 3H6 4781 

muleter AC 3 7 36, 1H6 3 2 68 

observant (n ) L 2 2 109 

perspective AW 5 3 48, R2 2 2 18, S 24 4, TN 5 i 224 



pwner H i 5 163 , 0 3 3 346 

plebeian C i 9 7, 3 i loi, 5 4 39 , also - - 

purveyor M i 6 22 

quintessence AYL 3 2 147 

recorder R3 3 7 30 

revenue Cy 2 3 148, R2 i 4 46, R3 3 7 158, etc , also - ^ - 
rheumatic VA 135 

sepulchre MV 3 2 96, VA 622, etc , also - - 

sequester O 3 4 40, TA 2 3 75 , also - - 

successive MM 2 2 98, otherwise - - 

successor H8 i i 60 , but WT 5 i 48 

surveyor H8 i i 222 , otherwise - ~ 

utensil T 3 2 104 

Tetrasyllabic and Pentasyllabic Words 
acceptable S 4 12 

accessary AW 2 i 35, R3 i 2 191, RL 1658, S 35 13 
commendable C 4 7 51, H i 2 87, 1H6 4 6 57, MA 3 i 71, 73, TS 4 3 102 , 
but - -- MV I I III 

consistory H8 2 4 92, R3 2 2 151 
conventicle 2H6 3 i 166 
delectable R2 2 3 7 
demonstrable O 3 4 142 

detestable J 3 4 29, RJ 4 5 5^, S 3 4S> TA 5 i 94, TmA 4 i 33 

dividable TC i 3 105 

executor H5 i 2 203 , otherwise - ^ - 

invisible TGV 2 i 141 , otherwise - — 

medicinable Cy 3 2 33, O S 2 351, TC i 3 91, 3 3 44 

medicinal WT 2 3 37 

perdurable H5 4 5 7, perdurably MM 3 1 115 

peremptory C 3 i 94, 286, 1H4 i 3 17, Hs 5 2 82, 3H6 48 59, J 2 i 454, 
LLL 4 3 226, TGV I 3 71, TS 2 I 132 , also - -c. - - 
receptacle P 4 6 186, RJ 4 3 40, TA i i 92, 2 3 235 
superfluous R2 3 4 63 , otherwise - — 

supportable T 5 i 145 

Stress on the Second Syllable 
Disyllabic Words 
abject (n ) R3 I I 106 

access M i 5 45, O 3 i 38, etc , but - H 2 i no, H8 3 2 17 


39 ^ 

adverse AW 5 1 26, R2 i 3 82 , otherwise ^ - 
aspect AC I 5 33, AYL 4 3 53 . C S 3 32, etc , regularly 
certain MND 5 i 131 , otherwise - 
chastise T 5 i 263, TC 5 5 4, otherwise - 
combat (vb) 1H6 i i 54, hut -«• - H i i 61, 2H6 4 10 47, 3H6 2 5 6, R2 


comfort (vb) R2 3 2 13, R J 3 5 210, also - 
commerce TC i 3 105, 3 3 205 

compact (n , vb) AYL 2 7 5, 5 4 5, CE 2 2 163, 3 2 22, H i i 86, JC 
3 1 215, L I 2 7, I 4 362, MM 5 I 242, MND 5 i 8, R3 2 2 133, RL 
1423, TA s 3 88, VA 149 , but - 1H6 5 4 163, TN 5 1 163 
complot (n ) R3 3 1 192, TA 5 i 65, (vb) R2 i i 96 
comrade H i 3 65, 1H4 4 i 96 , but - L 2 4 213 
conduct (n ) TA 4 4 65 , otherwise — 

confine (n ) AYL 2 1 24, J 42 246, L 2 4 150, LC 265, O i 2 27, T 
4 1 121 , also - 
conflux TC 137 
conjunct L 2 2 125, 5 1 12 ( ^) 
conquest TmA 4 3 103 , otherwise - 
consort (n ) L 2 1 99, TGV 4 1 64 , also - 
contents (n ) AYL 438, 21, H8 4 2 154, LC 56, TGV i 2 36, etc 
contract (n ) AW 2 3 185, 1H6 3 i 143, 5 i 46, 54 156, 5 5 28, MM 
I 2 149, RJ 2 2 117, WT 4 4 428, etc , also - 
converse (n ) H 2 i 42, LLL S 2 745 
direct (adj ) TC 3 3 158, otherwise - 
distinct TC 4 5 245 , otherwise - 
divers H8 5318, otherwise - 

edict 2H6 32258, LLL i i ii, MM 2292, MND i 1 151, P i i iii, 
TNK 3 6 145, 168 , but i - AC 3 12 32, 1H4 4 3 79, R3 1 4 203 
envy (vb) S 128 5, TS 2 i 18, also - 

exile (n ) AYL 2 1 1, Cy 44 26, PP 149, R2 i 3 217, RJ 3 3 20, TGV 
323.54155. also ■‘- 

exile (vb) AYL $ 4 171, MND 3 2 386, etc , also ^ - 
exploit (n ) H5 I 2 121, JC 2 I 317, 318, M 4 1 144, MV 3 2 60, RL 429, 

import (n ) AC 3 4 3, RJ 5 2 19, TS 3 2 104, etc 

impress (n ) AC 3 7 37, H i i 75, TGV 326 

instinct (n ) C 5 3 35, Cy 4 2 177, 2H4 1 1 86, 2H6 3 2 250, S 50 7 

intrinse L 2 2 81 

outrage (n ) 1H6 4 1 126, RL 605 , otherwise - 
portent 1H4 2 3 65, 5 i 20, JC 2 2 80, O 5 2 45, TC 1 3 96 



pi ecept H5 3 3 26 , otherwise - 
precinct 1H6 2 i 68 

presage (n ) R2 2 2 142, S 107 6, VA 457 , also (vb) always - 
pretext C 5 6 19 

protest (n ) 1H4 3 i 258, TC 3 2 182 

record (n ) AC 4 9 8, H i 5 99, RL 1643, S 59 5, 122 8, 123 1 1, etc , also 

JL ^ 

reflex (n ) RJ 3 5 20 
refuge (vb) R2 5 5 26 
relapse P 3 2 iii , also - 
sojourn (vb) MND 3 2 171, R J 3 3 169, also - 
survey (n ) AW $ 3 16, 1H4 5 4 82, TA i i 446 
triumph (vb) 1H4 5 3 IS. 5 4 4. LLL 4 3 35. ^3 4 4 59. RL 1388, 81518, 
also - 

turmoil (n ) TGV 2 7 37, (vb) 2H6 4 10 18 
Trisyllabic Words 

advertize 2H6 4 9 23, 3H6 2 i 116, 4 5 9, 5 3 18, H8 2 4 178, MM i 1 42, 
5 I 388, R3 4 4 499, TC 2 2 211, TNK 3 I 58 
authorize LC 104, M 3 4 66, S 35 6, unauthoriz’d O 4 i 2 
canonize H i 4 47, 2H6 i 3 63, J 3 i 177, 3 4 52, TC 2 2 202 

character (n ) P 3 2 67, R3 3 i 81 , otherwise 

character (vb) H i 3 59, 2H6 3 i 300, RL 807, S 122 2, TGV 274, also 


confessor H8 i 4 15, 2 i 21, 4 i 88, otherwise — 
confiscate CE i i 20, Cy 5 5 323 , otherwise — 
contrary H 3 2 221, 1H6 3 i 81, 3H6 i 2 20, J 4 2 198, R J i 5 87, WT 
5 1 45 , otherwise — 

demonstrate O i i 61, 3 3 431, TmA i i 91 , also - 

dimdant TmA 435 

extirpate T i 2 125 

gallantly 1H4 4 i 105 

illustrate H8 3 2 181, TNK 2 5 22 

mervatlous H5 2 i 50 

misconstrue AYL i 2 276, 1H4 5 2 69, 1H6 2 3 73, JC 5 3 89 
obdurate 2H6 4 7 122, 3H6 i 4 142, MV 4 1 8, R3 i 3 347, 3 i 39, RL 429, 
TA 2 3 160, VA 199 , but ( ?) - TGV 4 2 120 

opportune T 4 i 26, WT 4 4 511 
persever H i 2 92, MND 3 2 237, TGV 3 2 28, etc 
prescience TC i 3 199 , but - T i 2 180 
retinue L i 4 221 



revenue AC 3 6 30, H 3 2 63, 2H6 i 3 83, J 31 169, S 142 8, etc , also 


sepulchre H i 4 48, L 2 4 134, R2 i 3 196, RL 805, TGV 4 2 118, also 

X ^ ^ 

sequester AYL 2 i 33 , otherwise — 

sinister H5 2 4 85, MND 5 i 164, TC 4 5 128, TNK S 3 76 

solemnize LLL 2 i 42, T 5 i 309 , otherwise — 

subsequent TC i i 344 

successor WT S i 48 , also — 

triumpher TA i i 170, TmA 5 i 199 

Tetrasyllabic and Pentasyllabic Words 

advertisement 1H4 3 2 172 
artificer J 4 2 201 

char act ery JC 2 i 308, MWW SS 77 
characterless TC 3 2 195 

commendable MV i i in , otherwise ^ 

concupiscible MM 5 i 98 
epicurism L i 4 265 

interrogatory Cy 5 5 392, MV 5 i 298, 300, but — J 3 i 147 

interrupter TA i i 208 
multipotent TC 4 5 129 
pedascule TS 3 i 50 

peremptory 2H6 2 i 23 , otherwise 

perseverance M 4 3 93, TC 3 3 150 
pyramides AC 5 2 61 


This index lists alphabetically all the rhymes in Shakespeare’s poems and 
plays (First Folio and the Quartos preceding it) The head words appear 
with present-day spellings, but the rhyme words have been reproduced in 
their F and/or Q forms, the Shakespearean spelling of any head word can, 
however, easily be ascertained by looking up its relevant rhyme word or words 
Considerations of space have necessitated minor deviations from the strict 
alphabetical arrangement of the head words and other simplifications in the 
listing of the rhymes , these modifications will be immediately apparent from 
a glance at any of the pages that follow Thus brief entries consisting of a head 
word followed by one or two rhyme words with or without reference numbers 
have often been listed in alphabetical order on the same line, that is, horizon- 
tally instead of vertically, as, e g , these entries